I’ve been reluctant to write anything about the Manafort trial because I expect him to cop a plea before it starts. Why? The evidence against him is overwhelming and a guy who worked for foreign dictators is not the most sympathetic defendant imaginable. Additionally, his wing man Gary Gates is the prosecution’s star witness. Hopefully, I’m wrong because the trial is bound to be entertaining and informative.
The pre-trial period has gotten me thinking about my former Congressman, Dollar Bill Jefferson. The main thing Dollar Bill and Paul Manafort have in common is the most eccentric judge on the federal bench, TS Ellis. I followed the Jefferson trial closely and enjoyed Ellis’ judicial antics. He walked up to the boundary of reversible error in that case but never quite crossed it. Judge Ellis hasn’t changed, he’s as quirky as ever. Rachel Maddow has had a great time reading the pre-trial transcripts aloud on her show, which is another reason I hope the trial proceeds. I’d hate to deny Rachel that pleasure.
Superficially, Manafort and Jefferson have little in common. One is an Italian-American Republican, the other an African-American Democrat. In addition to Judge Ellis, they have three things in common: intelligence, greed and, most fatally, hubris. Dollar Bill was, perhaps, the smartest man in Gret Stet politics but greed led him to overreach, which, in turn, landed him in prison. At least he never worked for a foreign dictator, which makes Manafort far worse. I have also come to the conclusion that Manafort was planted on Team Trump by the Russians. Dollar Bill betrayed his constituents, Paul Manafort betrayed his country.
In 2017, Dollar Bill is a living, breathing cautionary tale.
Dollar Bill’s political legacy was swept away in a tide of graft, greed, and corruption. He got away with it for so many years that he thought he was bulletproof. He was not. It’s a shame because he could have been a great man instead of what he is: a convicted felon who was so disgraced that he lost his final race in 2008 to a Vietnamese-American Republican who had never before held a political office, Joseph Cao.
Dollar Bill went to trial, the same path Manafort is on today. He should be a cautionary tale for Manafort as well: he was convicted and Judge Ellis threw the book at him. Ouch.
Finally, since it’s First Draft’s annual fundraiser and the Manafort-Jefferson connection is fueled by money, I thought I’d let Dollar Bill do some tin cup rattling on our behalf:
Click here to see Athenae’s fundraising post and please give until it hurts. Thanks, y’all.