The republican President Donald Trump’s former campaign manger has been the defendant on trial for bank fraud and tax evasion in an Alexandria, Virginia federal court. On the 14th of August 2018, the defense team announced that they were resting their case without presenting their own evidence or witnesses which was a predictable tactic.
The defense strategy has been centered on destroying the credibility of the prosecutions’ key witness, Rick Gates who had worked closely with Paul Manafort for years.
The problem has to do with the fact that Mr. Gates has not been a good actor in his own right. The prosecutions’s case is bolstered with a mountain of evidence and documents proving their case.
However, the presiding Judge T. S. Ellis III has proven to be a thorn in the side of the prosecution since the inception of this trial.
In the end, there was nothing to be gained by the defense team going forward. Judge Ellis has scheduled time on the 15th of August 2018 for both the prosecution and the defense teams of attorneys to present their closing arguments
See : What’s Up With Judge Ellis And The Paul Manafort Trial – Gronda Morin
On August 14, 2018, Sharon LaFraniere of the New York Times penned the following report, “Manafort Lawyers Rest Without Calling Witnesses in Fraud Trial”
“Paul Manafort’s lawyers declined Tuesday to call any witnesses to defend him against charges of bank and tax fraud. Mr. Manafort, President Trump’s former campaign chairman, also told the judge that he did not want to testify, clearing the way for closing arguments from both sides and the start of jury deliberations on Wednesday (8/15/18).”
The decision by the defense to rest without presenting its own evidence was not unusual. “The defense believes it has made its point through cross-examination,” said Nancy Gertner, a Harvard Law School professor and a former federal judge.”
“Mr. Manafort is letting the case go to the jury because he and his lawyers “do not believe that the government has met its burden of proof,” said Kevin Downing, the lead defense lawyer in the case.”
“Earlier on Tuesday, Judge T. S. Ellis III of the United States District Court in Alexandria also denied a motion by Mr. Manafort’s lawyers to acquit him on all 18 charges without giving the case to the jury, another standard defense tactic as trials wind down. He closed the courtroom for more than two hours to discuss another defense motion that has been sealed, along with the government’s response.”
“Prosecutors for the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, rested their case Monday after calling roughly two dozen witnesses and introducing hundreds of exhibits. Mr. Manafort, 69, is accused of evading taxes on roughly $16.5 million in income that he earned working for pro-Russia political forces in Ukraine. When that income ran out, prosecutors claim, he fraudulently obtained more than $20 million in bank loans so he could maintain an extravagant lifestyle.”
“Defense lawyers made a special effort, including submitting a last-minute brief, to persuade the judge to throw out four bank fraud charges involving $16 million in loans that Mr. Manafort obtained from a small Chicago bank in late 2016 and early 2017. Richard Westling, one of Mr. Manafort’s lawyers, argued that the bank, Federal Savings Bank, was not defrauded because its chairman, Stephen M. Calk, was determined to do business with Mr. Manafort, despite questions about Mr. Manafort’s wherewithal. He also argued that bank officials were well aware of Mr. Manafort’s true financial situation.”
“Emails cited by the prosecution showed that Mr. Manafort was trading heavily on his connection to the Trump campaign in seeking those loans, one of which he used to prevent another creditor from foreclosing on one of his homes. In August 2016, before he was forced out of his position as campaign chairman, Mr. Manafort arranged to add Mr. Calk to Mr. Trump’s economic advisory committee. In November, just days after the election, Mr. Calk sent Mr. Manafort a long list of top administration jobs for which he wanted to be considered.”
“Mr. Manafort then emailed Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law, recommending Mr. Calk as someone who would “be totally reliable” and would “advance D.T. agenda,” referring to the president-elect. Mr. Calk’s “preference is secretary of the Army,” he wrote. In the next two months, Mr. Calk overruled his underlings and granted Mr. Manafort more money than any other of the bank’s borrowers had obtained, bank officials testified.”
“Mr. Westling argued that the bank was not victimized because it would have approved Mr. Manafort’s loans “regardless of the information” he had submitted. But the judge ruled that was a question for the jury to decide, not him.”
“While the Trump campaign was not a focus of the trial, references to it have popped up repeatedly since the jury was seated 11 days ago. Defense lawyers have acknowledged that Mr. Manafort had no income in 2016 when he was hired by the campaign. Rick Gates, Mr. Trump’s former deputy campaign chairman and director of his inaugural committee, testified that it was “possible” that he had embezzled some of the inaugural funds.”
The government case turns in part on the credibility of Mr. Gates, Mr. Manafort’s onetime trusted aide, who has pleaded guilty to two felony charges and is hoping his cooperation will keep him out of prison. On the stand, Mr. Gates, recounted how he helped Mr. Manafort hide his income in foreign bank accounts and trick banks into extending him loans that he was not qualified to receive.
Mr. Manafort’s lawyers had assailed Mr. Gates as a liar, an adulterer and a thief who had committed all the crimes that Mr. Manafort was accused of, and more. On the stand, Mr. Gates admitted to a host of offenses, including stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from Mr. Manafort’s bank accounts and concealing $3 million of his own income from tax authorities. While he appeared confident when prosecutors questioned him about Mr. Manafort’s criminal activity, he grew less sure when defense lawyers confronted him with questions about his own misdeeds.
Asked about how he embezzled funds by filing false expense reports, for example, Mr. Gates replied at one point: “It wasn’t a scheme. I just added numbers to the reports.”
See: Paul Manafort trial Day 10: Special counsel’s office calls its final witness/ Washington Post …
When it comes to ‘civil’ law cases (as opposed to violent crime and outright theft) if you didn’t intend to sail ‘close to the wind’ in your financial and legal dealings, if you didn’t push the boundaries of the law to its limit then you would not end up in court facing such charges.
It is not just a question of legal definitions, there is a moral dimension.
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This is a strong case as the documentation has been overwhelming. Someone asked me if Mr. Manafort could get acquitted. There is no way possible this could happen because of the amount of evidence that was presented. My friend asked me about the main witness Mr. Gates being complicit in these crimes as well. I said criminals hang out with other criminals. We would never be able to convict a lot of bad guys it we waited for saints to come forward to testify.
The deal is that the lesser of the bad guys gets the deal for less jail time or whatever. He/ she either tells the truth or the deal is off. Of course the next issue is that they are then motivated to create a truth that the prosecution wants to hear.
My response is that no prosecutor worth two cents, will be easily sold. They typically won’t give a deal to anyone without separate independent corroborating evidence. History has shown what happens to prosecutors who short circuit these standards. Eventually the truth is outed, and then these prosecutors’ reputations and careers end up in tatters.
Mr. Manafort is guilty as sin. He didn’t cheat by just a little but by a lot. The best the defense can hope for is a hung jury, one that could not agree 100% on the verdict.
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All for more money than anyone could possibly need
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Gronda, Manafort is indeed a piece of work and, if found guilty, will reap what he sowed. If not, it will be a miscarriage of justice. Even Trump should stay away from this one, as he will be tainted (and likely is already) with Mamafort’s shenigans. I do confess getting a chuckle out of yet another Trump lie that he was only with the campaign for a several weeks – it was just shy of five months. Keith
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Paul Manafort is guilty as sin. There should be a conviction. The jury instructions took the judge about 10 minutes shy of 2 hours. He has already told them that he is not giving them a written copy of his instructions. They will have to listen to the them again. One of the instructions given to the jury that they were not to consider or question the motivation as to why the prosecution is trying this case.
It takes about 5-7 days for a jury to arrive at a verdict.
Let’s hope they do the right thing.
Gronda, I was watching an old movie yesterday called “The Verdict,” with Paul Newman. During the trial, the judge intervenes in an unethical and unprofessional way. I feel the Manafort judge did the same thing and heard about it, which is why he felt he needed to apologize. Keith
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