If you took Statler and Waldorf, the elderly heckling Muppets from The Muppet Show, and put them on a federal bench, that’s the closest approximation you could get to Judge Thomas Ellis, who’s presiding over the trial of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort. He’s best described as a witty curmudgeon—quick-tempered with little patience and a sharp sense of humor he’s not afraid to aim at himself. When he wasn’t cutting off prosecutors Uzo Asonye and Greg Andres or telling them to hurry up, he was acting as courtroom comic relief. Among his quips Wednesday: Telling a witness to speak more loudly: “My hearing doesn’t work so well anymore. Nothing works so well anymore.” Or questioning the necessity of entering an invoice exhibit into evidence: “Is it just to show that Mr. Manafort is awash in money?” Then characterizing the message conveyed from exasperated facial expressions of unnamed defense and prosecution attorneys: “Why do we have to put up with this idiot judge?” And the capper, while instructing the jury on lunch protocol: “Your pheasant under glass will have been delivered.”
This is from Rabbit Hole, a members-only breaking news analysis that goes deep on the story that everyone is obsessing over. Sign up for Beast Inside to get it every week.