Published: Fri, August 17, 2018
Global Media | By Garry Long

Paul Manafort’s defense rests without calling a single witness

Paul Manafort’s defense rests without calling a single witness

The Chicago banker is now a witness in the case against Manafort, which entered a new phase Monday as prosecutors rested their case against the former Trump campaign manager.

The Mueller team has spent the past couple of weeks been bringing in a parade of witnesses to testify against Manafort, including former partner Rick Gates, who admitted that he and Manafort committed crimes together. Defense attorneys have called Gates a liar, philanderer and embezzler as they've sought to undermine his testimony.

Manafort's lawyers will also tell the court on Tuesday whether they plan to call any witnesses.

The testimony, on the 10th day of Mr Manafort's financial fraud trial, comes as the prosecution is expected to rest its case later on Monday.

The trial is the first to emerge from special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 US presidential election, but neither Manafort nor Gates have been charged in connection with their Trump campaign work. Neither Manafort nor Gates have been charged in connection with their Trump campaign work.

U.S. District Judge Dabney Friedrich, a 2017 appointee of President Donald Trump to the District Court for the District of Columbia, was the latest trial-level judge - including ones appointed by Republican and Democratic presidents - to cast doubt on arguments advanced by conservative legal thinkers, led by Northwestern University law professor Steven Calabresi, about the validity of Mueller's appointment.

Manafort spoke for the first time in court during the trial, saying he will not testify. Gates struck a plea deal with prosecutors and has provided much of the drama of the trial so far.

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

Gates said he helped Manafort commit crimes in an effort to protect Manafort's finances.

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.

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

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Asked by Judge T.S. Ellis III whether he wished to testify in his defense, Manafort responded: "No, sir". The admittedly impatient judge has pushed the government to speed up its case.

According to Mueller's team, the bank's founder and CEO Stephen Calk was given an unpaid advisory role in the Trump campaign after dining with Manafort. He said he also found several "inconsistencies" in the amount of income Mr Manafort reported for his business.

He testified that Manafort often asked him to present false information to accountants and banks to help illegally reduce his tax bill or obtain loans through fraud.

Brennan also said Manafort left off mortgages on two NY properties on the application. Testimony last week indicated Calk was seeking a position within the Trump administration.

Calk also listed 19 potential ambassadorships. The 3 indivituals are people who I believe advance DT agenda.

Friedrich became the second federal judge to find that higher-court precedents "make clear that the Acting Attorney General has the necessary statutory authority" to name a special counsel under the appointments clause of the Constitution.

Manafort noted Calk's background was "strong in defense issues, management and finance".

The list of "Perspective Rolls (sic)", as Calk wrote, included the top jobs at Treasury, Defense, Commerce and Housing and Urban Development.

Calk ultimately did not join the administration.

Brennan said bank president Javier Ubarri made an initial decision to reject a $9.5 million loan on Manafort's Hamptons estate, but bank chief executive Steve Calk overruled it.

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