Paul Manafort's Defense Rests Without Calling Witnesses

Defense rests in Manafort case, ex-Trump campaign chairman not called to stand

While several others charged in the investigation, including former Manafort aide Richard Gates, have pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate in the Mueller probe, Manafort has stubbornly battled the prosecution's charges. Calk never got the job, but the exchange appears to indicate that Manafort continued to make contact with members of Trump's inner circle - even after he left the campaign in August 2016 amid intense public scrutiny over his shady worldwide lobbying work on behalf of pro-Russian interests in Ukraine.

So Ellis asked Manafort today if he had any intention of testifying.

The two sides were expected to deliver closing statements Wednesday, the twelfth day of the trial, before the jury goes into deliberations.

At the same time, the judge overseeing the trial rejected Manafort's motion to throw out the 18 charges against him.

It is the first case to be tried that is tied to the sprawling investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, which is focused on possible illegal collusion between President Trump's 2016 election campaign and Russian Federation. Ellis scheduled closing arguments to begin Wednesday morning.

Defense attorneys rested their case without calling witnesses on Manafort's behalf.

Manafort looked at the jury as his lead attorney, Kevin Downing, said they wouldn't present any evidence.

"The reason Mr Manafort put on no witnesses in his defense is that his lawyers and he believed that they created doubt through their examination of the government's witnesses", said Jacob S. Frenkel, a former USA federal prosecutor and partner at Dickinson Wright law firm.

After two weeks of testimony and more than two dozen witnesses taking the stand as special counsel Robert Mueller's team laid out their case, the prosecution wrapped up their arguments Monday.

On Monday, the vice president of Federal Savings Bank, Jim Brennan, testified he knew Manafort lied about his finances when he applied for $16 million in loans from the bank.

After that income dried up, prosecutors say, Manafort turned to loans for which he qualified by lying to banks.

Ellis, in making his ruling, said that the defense made a "significant" argument, but ultimately ruled the question "is an issue for the jury".

Gates came on board the Trump campaign with Manafort and stayed for the duration of the campaign, later serving as deputy chairman for Trump's inaugural committee and then starting a pro-Trump PAC.

Still, the proceedings have drawn President Donald Trump's attention - and prompted tweets - as the president has worked to undermine the standing of the Mueller investigation in the public square.



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