Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort’s federal fraud trial this week has featured a surprising fashion sideline, with prosecutors introducing extravagant receipts meant to prove how Manafort spent his offshore money.
Much of the sartorial attention has focused on Manafort’s taste in high-end leather, including lavish purchases at Manhattan store Alan Couture that included a $15,000 ostrich-leather jacket and a $18,500 python-leather coat.
Manafort’s pricey leather purchases caught the eye of another prominent fan of leather clothing: writer H.G. “Buzz” Bissinger. The Friday Night Lights author, who has publicly struggled with his own addiction to buying leather clothes, thought Manafort could be getting much more with his allegedly ill-gotten money.
“If he had an addiction and he wanted to spend money, he should’ve come to me,” Bissinger told The Daily Beast.
Bissinger, who claims to have spent more than $1 million on clothing, much of it in eye-popping shades of leather, said the exorbitant price of luxury leather goods is part of the appeal. While Manafort’s purchases may disgust the public — and possibly jurors — Bissinger said the desire to drop thousands of dollars on a garish leather jacket “is a symptom of something else within him.”
“They’re beautiful, but they’re excessive,” Bissinger said. “And when you buy something excessive, it certainly indicates to me some addiction to a certain type of lifestyle.”
Bissinger wasn’t thrilled with the $18,500 python-leather coat Manafort bought for his wife, but he reserved most of his ire for Manafort’s $15,000 ostrich-leather jacket. That jacket comes with a hood and a letterman’s jacket-style white piping that Bissinger declared “ridiculous.”
“It’s an ugly looking jacket,” Bissinger said. “Mine is much nicer. He should’ve gone to Gucci if he’s going to waste money.”
Prosecutors in the Manafort case have been accused of introducing the leather purchases as evidence in an attempt to turn the jury against Manafort. And Bissinger, maybe the most sympathetic person in the world for Manafort’s leather purchases, can see how that could work.
“Who in their right mind would buy a jacket like that?” Bissinger said. “Well, I did, and frankly, I wasn’t in my right mind.”