Manafort lied, prosecutors argue at close of trial

Paul Manafort. Photo: Instagram

Aug. 15 (UPI) — Closing arguments started Wednesday in the fraud trial of former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, with prosecutors essentially dismissing everything he’s said.

Prosecutors began Wednesday with a two-hour summary of evidence against Manafort, to be followed by a defense summary, after which Judge T.E. Ellis III will hand the case to the jury.

The Alexandria, Va., trial, now in its 12th day, is being prosecuted by special counsel Robert Mueller‘s team of investigators — who are probing irregularities in the 2016 presidential campaign.

Manafort is charged with 18 crimes involving bank and tax fraud in the most high-profile Mueller prosecution so far.

Mueller’s team framed their argument Wednesday around Manafort’s “lies” — a word federal prosecutor Greg Andres used more than a dozen times.

“Mr. Manafort lied to keep more money when he had it and he lied to get more money when he didn’t,” he told the jury.

Andres said 10 witnesses — including an FBI agent, Internal Revenue Service worker and Manafort’s own bookkeepers — testified the former campaign manager was aware of financial irregularities. Andres recounted that Manafort hid $60 million in 31 offshore accounts earned by consulting Ukrainian political leaders, and filed false tax returns for five consecutive years, failing to pay taxes on nearly $15 million in income.

The prosecution’s star witness, former Manafort aide Rick Gates, admitted to embezzling funds — but Andres said Manafort was aware of payment of his personal expenses from the offshore accounts.

Andres also said Manafort referred to “my” accounts in emails.

“These are all emails Mr. Manafort wrote himself. No Rick Gates on these emails, not one,” the prosecutor said.

The defense will offer its closing arguments on Wednesday afternoon.


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