Published: Thu, August 16, 2018
Global News | By Blake Casey

Prosecution rests in Paul Manafort trial

Prosecution rests in Paul Manafort trial

US prosecutors on Monday plan to wrap up their tax and bank fraud case against former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort, making it likely the case will go to the jury by midweek if the defence decides not to call any witnesses.

The trial is the first to emerge from Mueller's investigation into Russian meddling in the presidential election, but neither Manafort nor Gates have been charged in connection with their Trump campaign work. The defense has rested their case.

Prosecutors finished presenting their evidence Monday after weeks of sometimes dramatic testimony from two dozen witnesses.

Manafort lawyer Kevin Downing said Manafort's legal team chose not to mount a defense because USA prosecutors had not met the legal bar needed to prove their case.

Manafort's decision not to testify and not to call witnesses was announced by his attorney, Kevin Downing, before the jury on Tuesday afternoon.

Earlier this week, Mueller's star witness and Manafort's longtime business partner Rick Gates admitted depositing millions of dollars in offshore accounts to hide income from USA tax collectors.

Brennan also testified that bank employees discovered that Manafort had loans on two other properties but did not know which properties they were associated with.

Brennan says the losses stemmed from loans of $9.5 million and $6.5 million made to Manafort. An email revealed during trial suggested Manafort was eyeing the secretary of Army position for Calk, and another email showed Manafort trying to secure inauguration tickets for Calk.

Late Monday, Manafort's team also made a motion to dismiss all the charges, saying the government hadn't met its burden of proof.

The trappings of Manafort's lifestyle dominated media headlines throughout the trial: there was half a million dollars worth of antique rugs, $750,000 spent on landscaping for his $13 million Bridgehampton mansion, and more than $1 million for clothing, including a $15,000 jacket made of ostrich skin.

Ellis also closed the courtroom from the public while he heard arguments on a sealed motion filed by Manafort's team.

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When asked by prosecutors why the loan received a 4 rating, Brennan said it was because of "Mr. Calk", referring to the bank's founder, Stephen Calk.

But defense lawyers highlighted his admission that he initially lied to the special counsel, embezzled hundreds of thousands of dollars from Manafort's company, and had at least one extramarital affair.

"We're fully cooperating with the Special Counsel's office, and in fairness to both sides we can not make any comment at this time", Calk told the news service on Sunday.

Prosecutors, who have been frustrated by Ellis' tendency to interrupt and chide prosecutors in front of the jury, sought stronger language to make clear that jurors do not need to adopt any opinions expressed by the judge.

The only dispute was about what jurors should be told about how to interpret questions and comments interjected by the judge during the course of the trial.

At one point in the discussion, Ellis asked prosecutors whether they thought he had ever interjected his own opinions.

Ellis eventually came up with compromise language that was agreeable to both sides.

Judge T.S. Ellis said he would talk to Manafort on Tuesday about whether he wanted to take the stand in his defense, a move legal experts say is highly unlikely.

The defence in former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort's tax and fraud trial has rested its case without calling any witnesses.

Before completing their case, prosecutors will call James Brennan, an executive at the Federal Savings Bank.

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