US prosecutors rest case in Manafort trial
Posted on 08/28/19 9:03 PM
Prosecutors have rested their fraud case against former Trump campaign chief Paul Manafort.US prosecutors have rested their tax evasion and bank fraud case against longtime Washington operator and US President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort.
Manafort’s defence team will now present their case and are expected to lay the blame for any wrongdoing with Rick Gates, the former Manafort protege who says the two committed crimes together.
Defence lawyers have called Gates a liar, philanderer and embezzler as they’ve sought to undermine his testimony.
The trial is the first to emerge from Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling in the presidential election, but neither Manafort nor Gates have been charged in connection with their Trump campaign work.
Still, the proceedings have drawn international attention – as well as Trump’s – for what the case reveals about people in the president’s orbit as Mueller examines the same circles for any election interference or obstruction.
Trump has distanced himself from Manafort, who was chairman of 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.
The government says Manafort hid around $US16 million 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. Then, after his money in Ukraine dried up, they allege he defrauded banks by lying about his income on loan applications.
Gates said he helped Manafort commit crimes in an effort to protect Manafort’s finances. Defence lawyers called Gates a liar interested in avoiding jail time under a plea deal. Gates was forced to admit embezzling hundreds of thousands of dollars from Manafort and an extramarital affair.
The prosecution has introduced a trove of documentary evidence as they’ve sought to prove Manafort defrauded banks and concealed millions of dollars in offshore bank accounts from the IRS.
Along the way, they’ve not only faced an aggressive defence team but tongue-lashings from US District Judge T.S. Ellis III, who presides over the case. The admittedly impatient judge has pushed the government to speed up its case.
Before prosecutor Greg Andres told Ellis the government rested its case on Monday afternoon, the court heard testimony from a bank executive who said he found several red flags with Manafort’s finances while he was being considered for around $US16 million in bank loans.
James Brennan, a vice president at Federal Savings Bank, said Manafort failed to disclose mortgages on his loan application. He said he also found several “inconsistencies” in the amount of income Manafort reported for his business.
That information led senior executives to reject one of the loans. But Brennan said Federal Savings Bank chairman Stephen Calk overruled that decision.