>> Prosecutors in the fraud case against Paul Manafort have tried to portray him as a tax cheat who hid millions of dollars in off-shore accounts to fund his lavish lifestyle. Lawyers highlighting his expensive homes and cars. One witness who works at a high-end menswear store, testified that Manafort was the only customer who paid using wire transfers from foreign banks.
And that he spent $400,000 at the store in 2013 alone. But the judge in the case out of the Alexandria, Virginia on Wednesday questioned that tactic. Reuters reporter Sara Lynch was at the courthouse on day two. You know, a lot of interesting things happened without the jury present today.
Judge Ellis repeatedly raised questions about whether and why the prosecution should be allowed to show images depicting Paul Manafort's life of luxury. And why that would be relevant to bank fraud and tax fraud, saying that it's not illegal to be successful and wealthy.>> The judge also admonished both sides to stop using the term oligarchs to describe the foreign interests paying Manafort.
Because it could jurors the impression that Mannafort was, quote, consorting and being paid by people who are criminals. One strategy both the defense and prosecution seem to agree on, focusing on Manafort's business partner, Rick Gates. Who is now a cooperating witness in the Russia probe.>> The prosecution, of course, wants to be able to potentially use Gates as a witness to show that he knew, in depth, how the books were kept.
The information about the taxes, the information about the income, and how it was essentially hidden from the IRS. By the same token, the defense is clearly building a case to try and pin it all on Rick Gates.>> But the question of whether Gates would even testify was brought up Wednesday.
The prosecution said it was possible he wouldn't. When asked to clarify, the prosecutor said they are constantly evaluating the need to call a particular witness. And his comments were quote, not to suggest we are not calling him.>> Certainly the President's been clear, he thinks Paul Manafort's been treated unfairly.
>> Manafort, Trump's former campaign chairman, is the first Trump aide to go to trial in special counselor Robert Mueller's Russia investigation. On Wednesday, the president lashed out, tweeting that Manafort had been treated worse than Al Capone. And that his attorney general Jeff Sessions should end the investigation altogether.