Manafort declines to testify as defense rests

Paul Manafort. Photo: Twitter/Paul Manafort

Aug. 14 (UPI) — Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort declined to testify as the defense in his bank fraud trial rested their case Tuesday.

Manafort’s lawyers declined to call any witnesses one day after prosecutors rested. The two sides were expected to deliver closing statements Wednesday, the twelfth day of the trial, before the jury goes into deliberations.

Manafort is charged with bank fraud, conspiracy, preparing false tax returns and failing to disclose foreign income. The indictment says he and business associate Rick Gates moved money from Ukraine through foreign bank accounts to conceal it from the Internal Revenue Service.

U.S. District Court Judge T.S. Ellis III of Virginia spoke directly to Manafort on Tuesday, asking him about his decision not to speak on his own behalf.

Manafort’s charges stem from an investigation led by special counsel Robert Mueller, who is probing whether Russia interfered in the 2016 U.S. presidential election and whether the Trump campaign colluded. He’s also determining whether President Donald Trump obstructed justice when he fired former FBI Director James Comey, who at the time was looking into Russian meddling.

Earlier Tuesday, Ellis declined a motion by the defense to dismiss the charges against Manafort, saying the prosecution failed to prove his guilt.

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. He said he wouldn’t have approved the loans, but the bank’s CEO, Stephen Calk, pressured him to do so.

Last week, Gates, who pleaded guilty to the charges, told the court he and Manafort knowingly committed crimes. Gates also testified that he embezzled “several hundred thousand” dollars from Manafort by submitting false expense reports that were paid out of some of the undisclosed foreign bank accounts in Cyprus.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here