Defence in Manafort's fraud trial rests case

Pauline Gross
August 16, 2018

Defense lawyers have not said whether they expect to call any witnesses after that. Those arguments are scheduled for Wednesday morning. The defence has tried to blame Manafort's financial mistakes on his former assistant, Richard Gates.

PHOTO: Paul Manafort, former campaign manager for Donald Trump, arrives at federal court in Washington, June 15, 2018.

Manafort's lawyers have yet to say whether they will put on a case.

Manafort, who has watched silently as the case against him was argued in federal court in Alexandria, Virginia, was asked by Judge T.S. Ellis whether he wanted to testify.

The prosecution had planned to rest its case last week, but an unknown issue that the judge made a decision to keep under seal delayed the start of proceedings for several hours that day.

After announcing that they were resting their case, Downing told reporters outside the courthouse that they did so because they believe "the government has not met its burden of proof".

The defense has not admitted a quid pro quo agreement between Calk and Manafort, though they have thrown TFSB under the bus, saying that it was the bank's responsibility to properly vet whether or not Manafort's finances should have qualified him for the loans to begin with.

The government says Manafort hid at least $16 million in income from the IRS between 2010 and 2014 by disguising income he earned advising politicians in Ukraine as loans and hiding it in foreign banks.

In addition, Brennan said a member of the bank's own credit committee objected to Manafort's application, only to be overruled by CEO Steve Calk.

Other bank officials saw "red flags" in Manafort's loan application and wanted to reject it, he said.

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"The fact that the judge resumed proceedings but gave a strong admonishment to the jury tells me that a juror issue arose but that level of misconduct was not significant enough to warrant a mistrial", said jury consultant Alexandra Rudolph.

Manafort's lawyers have not yet said whether they will call any witnesses or present other evidence in the case.

Liss' testimony came after Manafort's attorneys signaled they intend to argue that the offshore accounts that he used to pay for millions of dollars in personal expenses, such as fancy suits, landscaping, rugs and homes, were actually controlled by the company and not him personally. Testimony last week indicated Calk was seeking a position within the Trump administration.

Still, the proceedings have drawn global attention - as well as Trump's - for what the case reveals about people in the combative president's orbit as Mueller examines the same circles for any election interference or obstruction.

Concord has pleaded not guilty to charges that it conspired to obstruct the 2016 USA election by funding a coordinated social media propaganda campaign, run by the Internet Research Agency of St. Petersburg, that pushed voters toward Republican candidate Donald Trump and away from Democrat Hillary Clinton. During testimony, Gates was also forced to admit embezzling hundreds of thousands of dollars from Manafort and conducting an extramarital affair.

"You have an absolute right to testify before this jury", Ellis said.

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

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

Jurors heard Monday from two final witnesses called by the prosecution: James Brennan of Federal Savings Bank and Paula Liss of the Treasury Department's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network.

Other reports by GizPress

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