Manafort chooses not to testify, defense rests its case

Manafort chooses not to testify, defense rests its case

The defense for Paul Manafort rested their case Tuesday without calling the ex-Trump campaign chairman to the stand to testify in the bank and tax fraud case against him.

The case is the first brought by Justice Department special counsel Robert Mueller to go to trial and the proceedings have drawn intense national interest.

Manafort is being tried on 18 counts, which include tax and bank fraud charges, as well the failure to disclose foreign bank accounts.

Both sides will debate jury instructions Tuesday afternoon before making their closing arguments.

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

Manafort is accused of fraudulent banking and tax activities, including deceiving banks into granting loans and hiding his income from tax authorities.

This comes as his defense team decided not to present a case on his behalf and did not call up any witnesses.

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Manafort was on Trump's campaign team from March to August 2016, starting as a delegate-wrangler and serving as campaign chairman in the last three months. Manafort's lawyers asked the judge to toss out all the charges, but they focused in particular on four bank-fraud charges.

The core of the government's case rested on more than two days of testimony by Rick Gates, Manafort's onetime trusted aide, who has pleaded guilty to two felony charges and is hoping his cooperation will keep him out of prison. Kevin Downing, Manafort's lawyer, simply said that "the defense rests".

Manafort's lawyers argued that there is no way that one of the banks, Federal Savings Bank, could have been defrauded because its chairman, Stephen Calk, knew full well that Manafort's finances were in disarray but approved the loan to Manafort anyway.

The jury heard from a former partner and a former accountant on how the long-time political consultant doctored his accounts and laundered tens of millions of dollars through offshore banks. Witnesses testified that Calk pushed the loans through because he wanted a post in the Trump administration.

Manafort also noted Calk's past role as an economic adviser to the Trump campaign and prior television appearances.

The trial recessed for two hours so that Judge Ellis could review a sealed motion by the defense.

Gates said he helped Manafort commit crimes in an effort to lower his tax bill and fund his lavish lifestyle.

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