SCOTT SIMON, HOST:
Paul Manafort is in the dock. The Koch brothers are on the outs. Donald Trump is in control. And who knows when Brett Kavanaugh will get his vote? Maybe Ron Elving does. NPR senior editor and correspondent, Ron, thanks so much for being with us.
RON ELVING, BYLINE: Good morning, Scott.
SIMON: The first week of the Manafort trial – let me ask you. The president’s 2016 campaign chairman, a longtime lobbyist – he’s being accused of tax evasion and bank fraud. Our justice correspondent Carrie Johnson, elsewhere in the show, is going to talk about the trial, too, including the ostrich skin coat. What struck you as you heard her reporting this week and gazed at those courtroom sketches?
ELVING: The first thing may have been how lucky we all are to have Carrie Johnson. But beyond that, this trial makes the Mueller investigation real, makes the evidence visible and palpable in real time. Prosecutors say Manafort made tens of millions of dollars working for foreign politicians, including some who were friendly to Moscow. And he had the source of that money in a web – he hid the source of that money in a web of companies and accounts. He told the IRS it came from loans.
SIMON: And this is just trial number one, right? He goes on trial as soon as next month, I believe, too.
ELVING: Yes. Another trial in a separate federal court on charges of failing to register as a foreign agent when he was working for these foreign governments. Now, that’s a federal crime under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, or FARA.
SIMON: Now, as you have heard, Paul Manafort – let me put it this way. He worked for some foreign leaders you probably wouldn’t want to invite home for dinner. Now, that, in and itself, isn’t a crime, but it bears some examination, doesn’t it?
ELVING: Indeed, he worked for some autocratic strongmen, as…