Paul Manafort’s Defense Rests Without Calling a Witness or Presenting a Case

This Aug. 7 2018 courtroom sketch depicts Rick Gates right testifying during questioning in the bank fraud and tax evasion trial of Paul Manafort at federal court in Alexandria Va. U.S. district Judge T.S. Ellis III presides at top right. Gates ackno

The trial, the first for Mueller's office, did not relate to the Trump campaign or Russia's campaign of interference in 2016 presidential election, but Ellis had ruled that Mueller's mandate was broad enough for him to pursue the case.

Their testimony, accompanied by a lengthy paper trail, aimed to support the government's allegations that Manafort hid millions of dollars of income from Ukraine from the IRS in secret offshore bank accounts, and then lied to USA lenders to get bank loans when that revenue dried up.

The core of the government's case rested on more than two days of testimony by Rick Gates, Manafort's onetime trusted aide, who has pleaded guilty to two felony charges and is hoping his cooperation will keep him out of prison. Defense lawyers argued in court papers filed late Monday that prosecutors failed to prove that the bank relied on false information in deciding whether to lend money to Manafort.

During the trial, more than two dozen witnesses took the stand and portrayed Manafort, 69, as a lavish spender with little regard for the law. Those witnesses said the bank chief executive officer, Stephen Calk, overrode red flags at the bank.

"Any purported misstatements regarding Mr. Manafort's income or credit card debt were immaterial" to the bank's decision about whether to make the loans, according to the filing.

Judge Ellis asked Mr. Manafort if he wished to testify on his own behalf, but the political strategist replied, "No, Sir".

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Ellis, in making his ruling on the motion to dismiss, said the defence made a "significant" argument, but ultimately ruled the question "is an issue for the jury".

Lead defense attorney Kevin Downing declined to present a case with any witnesses Tuesday.

James Brennan, a vice president at the Federal Savings Bank, testified earlier this week that around the time the email was sent, Manafort secured $16 million in loans from the Federal Savings Bank, even though he says Calk knew Manafort was lying about his finances.

Manafort is accused of hiding millions of dollars in income he received advising Ukrainian politicians. Neither Manafort nor Gates have been charged in connection with their Trump campaign work.

According to a new exhibit submitted into evidence on Monday, Manafort - who resigned from his role as chairman of the Trump campaign months earlier - emailed Kushner on November 30, 2016, with three recommendations for senior administration positions in then-President-elect Donald Trump's administration. Manafort's defense rested Tuesday morning without calling a single witness.

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