At one point during Friday's court proceedings, in which Paul Manafort pleaded guilty to a variety of charges and agreed to cooperate with prosecutors, the judge reminded Donald Trump's former campaign chairman that there are "a significant number" of forfeitures in this case, including several homes and financial accounts.
Given the circumstances, "significant" may have been understating matters. As Rachel explained on the show the other day, after highlighting the series of things Manafort is giving up to federal officials:
"He's forfeiting all of those things -- bank accounts, insurance policies, lots and lots of real estate to the government. The government alleges that he defrauded the government of $15 million, money that he didn't pay taxes on. Part of making that up clearly is handing over his ill-gotten gains and the things he committed crimes in order to attain as real estate."But that last question there from the judge -- 'real property at Baxter Street in New York and also real property at Fifth Avenue in New York' -- that's the last one she asks, at that point, that's actually the first reference to President Trump, because the Fifth Avenue property that Paul Manafort agreed in court today to forfeit to the government, that is Paul Manafort's apartment at Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue."You might remember that Paul Manafort used the fact that he had an apartment at Trump Tower as one of the selling points for himself in his letter to the Trump campaign in which he pitched himself for the campaign chairman job. Well, now the Justice Department owns Paul Manafort's old apartment in Trump Tower, which has to be a little unsettling for the president, I'd imagine."
And what, pray tell, is the combined fair-market value of Manafort's forfeited real-estate properties? According to a Washington Post analysis, the combined total is about $22.2 million.
The analysis added, that sum alone "nearly covers our estimated costs of the investigation to date." Add Manafort's bank accounts and insurance policies to the mix, the value of what the feds have seized from the president's former campaign chairman goes up even more.
In other words, as of Friday's proceedings, Mueller's probe is effectively paying for itself.
That may not seem especially important given the larger context, but Trump has made the cost of the investigation one of his key complaints. In June, for example, the president complained that the Associated Press had "just reported that the Russian Hoax Investigation has now cost our government over $17 million, and going up fast." Last week, based on some suspect math, Trump upped the price tag to $28 million.
The next time the president stresses this argument, remember that Manafort's forfeited assets effectively take the talking point away.