Saturday, 20 July, 2019

Prosecution rests case in Paul Manafort trial

Prosecution rests case against Paul Manafort Bank VP says employees knew Manafort lied on loan applications
Deanna Wagner | 16 August, 2018, 13:08

Gates testified he and his former boss committed crimes together for years. Defense attorneys have called Gates a liar, philanderer and embezzler as they've sought to undermine his testimony. Netflix CFO to step down Prosecutors rest their case against Manafort MORE turned to White House aide Jared KushnerJared Corey KushnerCanada may secure America's nuclear nonproliferation bacon Omarosa telling friends she has tapes of Ivanka, Kushner too: report Saudis show separation of oil and state in spat with Canada MORE to obtain to help in securing a position in the Trump administration for a banker now at the center of Manafort's fraud trial.

The defense attorneys' decision means that the closely watched case is expected to go to the 12-person jury late Wednesday, after prosecutors and Manafort's lawyers make their closing arguments and instructions are issued to the jury.

Still, the proceedings have drawn worldwide 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.

Trump has distanced himself from Manafort, who led the campaign from May to August 2016 with Gates at his side. Gates struck a plea deal with prosecutors and provided much of the drama of the trial so far.

Prior to the prosecution resting, a bank official testified that the Federal Savings Bank gave Manafort $16 million in loans and knew that he lied about his financial situation before they were approved by the bank's chairman.

In asking the court for an acquittal, Manafort's lawyers argued that the evidence in the case was "insufficient" to convict him.

Gates testified that he helped Manafort commit crimes in an effort to lower his tax bill and fund his lavish lifestyle.

Prosecutors rested their case on Monday, closing two weeks of a testimony in which they introduced a trove of documentary evidence as they sought to prove Manafort's guilt on 18 separate criminal counts. Along the way, they've not only faced an aggressive defense team but tongue-lashings from U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III, who presides over the case. Ellis has pushed the government to speed up its case.

Members of the defense team for Paul Manafort, including Thomas Zehnle, left, Brian Ketcham, and Kevin Downing, leave federal court during a break of the trial of former Donald Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, in Alexandria, Va., Tuesday, Aug. 14, 2018. He said he also found several "inconsistencies" in the amount of income Manafort reported for his business.

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Raico testified Friday that Calk, who was "interested in politics", and Manafort met privately for lunch on multiple occasions as Calk took it upon himself to personally shepherd Manafort's loan applications through the bank's procedures, a situation that was "outside the norm".

Brennan also described how he asked Stephen Calk's brother, John Calk, another major Federal Savings Bank shareholder, to sign off on the loans to Manafort, but John Calk refused.

"It closed because Mr. Calk wanted it to close", Brennan said.

Brennan, who wrote a memorandum about a second $6.5 million loan the bank extended to Manafort, said he had given the loan a rating of "4".

In all, the bank lost $11.8 million on the loans it made to Manafort, Brennan said.

Manafort has been charged with tax and bank fraud as well as failing to disclose foreign bank accounts. The defense has tried to blame Manafort's financial mistakes on his former deputy, Rick Gates.

Manafort is accused of hiding millions of dollars in income he received advising Ukrainian politicians. Ellis took the motion under advisement.

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