Defense rests in Paul Manafort trial; closing arguments Wednesday


U.S. prosecutors on Monday rested their case against former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort after 10 days of testimony alleging how he evaded taxes and defrauded banks, with the defense set to decide on Tuesday if it will call any witnesses.

Brenann is an executive at Federal Savings Bank, which extended $16 million in loans to Manafort on his Hamptons estate and a Brooklyn brownstone house in late 2016 and early 2017. Gates was also forced to admit embezzling a fortune from Manafort and having an extramarital affair.

On his way out of the courthouse, defense attorney Kevin Downing said that the defense rested its case because "the government has not met its burden of proof".

The trial is the first to emerge from Mr Mueller's investigation into Russian meddling in the presidential election, but neither Mr Manafort nor his long-time deputy, Rick Gates, have been charged in connection with their Trump campaign work.

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

Calk, because he was a significant shareholder at the bank, could in theory loan to anyone he wished - even someone who was lying on paper - if Calk had the personal want for Manafort's boost in politics, the defense team argued. The trial, which is expected to begin in mid-September, will be tried by some of the same prosecutors handling the current case in Northern Virginia.

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".

Manafort's trial is the first courtroom test for Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who indicted him as part of an investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 US election. Information about Manafort's company's income, his unpaid debts from his Yankees season ticket and undisclosed mortgages on his other properties in NY raised red flags internally at the bank, he added.

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Manafort lawyer Kevin Downing said Manafort's legal team chose not to mount a defense because USA prosecutors had not met the legal bar needed to prove their case.

That information led senior executives to reject one of the loans.

Prosecutors have spent more than two weeks presenting evidence they say shows how Manafort hid millions of dollars in offshore accounts from the IRS. Witnesses testified at trial that Calk pushed the loans through because he wanted a post in the Trump administration. Under tough cross-examination from defense attorneys, Gates maintained that every action he took came at Manafort's direction. On Monday, defense lawyers filed a sealed motion, and prosecutors filed a response also under seal.

The judge is expected to decide Tuesday on whether to grant a defense motion to dismiss the case before the case goes to the jury - a frequent defense request that is rarely granted.

One of Manafort's lawyers, Thomas Zehnle, said they plan to tell the jury that Manafort had no obligation to report foreign bank accounts in the years he owned only 50 percent of his firm, Davis Manafort International.

The witness, Paula Liss, testified that not only hadn't Manafort himself disclosed to the agency the existence of his foreign accounts, but neither did his consulting company, which brought in millions of dollars for Ukrainian lobbying.

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