The Defense Rests Its Case In The Manafort Trial

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August 14, 2018 11:58 am
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ALEXANDRIA, VA — Lawyers representing Paul Manafort have rested their case in his financial crimes trial. The defense did not call any witnesses or present any evidence.

The move followed arguments on a motion for acquittal filed by the defense. Judge T.S. Ellis denied the motion.

Ellis then called Manafort to the podium and asked him if he wished to testify.

“No sir,” Manafort replied.

Manafort is on trial here facing bank and tax fraud charges arising from his work as a political operative in Ukraine. Manafort went on to become campaign manager of Donald Trump’s 2016 election bid. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Manafort’s prosecution by special counsel Robert Mueller is the first to emerge from his investigation into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 elections.

The prosecution rested its case yesterday following two weeks of evidence detailing years of Manafort’s financial life, including alleged efforts to avoid paying U.S. income taxes on the money he earned overseas and efforts, after his income flow dried up, to fraudulently apply for loans in the United States.

The trial largely avoided mention of the 2016 campaign and Trump’s presidency until the final days, when witnesses for the prosecution laid out an alleged effort by Manafort to secure an administration job for a banker, Stephen Calk of Chicago’s Federal Savings Bank, who allegedly knowingly approved two fraudulent loans to Manafort.

The last three days of trial have been dominated by closed-door meetings between the judge and lawyers for both sides, the subject of which remains unknown. Speculation is that there is an issue of some kind with the jury, but the judge has shed no light on the matter in public settings. A two-hour sealed session was held Tuesday morning before the courtroom opened to the public at 11:30 a.m ET. It came after another sealed hearing Monday evening and significant delays in the trial Friday for meetings between the judge and lawyers.

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