Manafort Trial Turns From Prosecution's Case to His Defense

Aaron P. Bernstein  Bloomberg via Getty Images FILE

Aaron P. Bernstein Bloomberg via Getty Images FILE

On Monday, prosecutors rested their financial fraud case against the former Trump campaign chairman, having devoted two weeks of testimony to support their argument that Manafort hid millions of dollars in offshore accounts and obtained millions more in bank loans under false pretenses.

The testimony, on the 10th day of Manafort's financial fraud trial, comes as the prosecution is expected to rest its case later Monday.

The case against Manafort has barely referenced his work as President Trump's campaign chairman and has not indicated if he may fit into the larger picture of Russian meddling in the 2016 campaign that Mueller's team is investigating. Prosecutors say those loans, made after the election, were part of a corrupt scheme to help Manafort pull cash out of his properties.

Raico testified Friday that Calk, who was "interested in politics", and Manafort met privately for lunch on multiple occasions as Calk took it upon himself to personally shepherd Manafort's loan applications through the bank's procedures, a situation that was "outside the norm". But in court Monday, he said he shouldn't have done that.

"Mr. Calk is a co-conspirator, and he participated in the conspiracy to defraud the bank", prosecutor Greg Andres said at the sidebar, in a transcript unsealed over the weekend. But in fact, Brennan testified, Manafort was in default for a $5.7 million loan he had taken out for a Los Angeles property and had also stopped paying on a $6.5 million loan on a NY residence. He gave it the sham rating "because the loan was going through", he added.

Moments later, Manafort addressed the court for the first time since the trial opened 11 days ago when the judge asked him to confirm that he doesn't plan to testify.

Manafort is accused of hiding millions of dollars in income he received advising Ukrainian politicians. Manafort's lawyers asked the judge to toss out all the charges, but they focused in particular on four bank-fraud charges.

They are likely to argue to the jury that "the government hasn't landed a glove on us, so there was no reason to put on a defense", Litman said.

Calk didn't get a government job.

Calk expressed to Manafort interest in working for Trump administration, a bank employee testified last week. Calk also listed seven other senior domestic appointments and 18 ambassadorships - ranked in order of preference - that he would accept.

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Also on the list: France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Japan, Ireland, Australia, China, United Nations, NATO, European Union, Portugal, Holy See, Luxembourg, Austria, Switzerland, Netherlands and Singapore.

Brennan, who wrote a memorandum about a second $6.5 million loan the bank extended to Manafort, said he had given the loan a rating of "4". The defense has tried to blame Manafort's financial mistakes on his former deputy, Rick Gates.

Ellis appears set to rule on these final requests Tuesday when court reconvenes at 9:30 a.m. ET.

But Wisenberg said the defense's best chance for an acquittal may be if one of the 12 jurors - six men and six women - decides to support Manafort for political reasons. Will it present a case and call witnesses?

Manafort is not expected to be called to testify on his own behalf.

It would be surprising if Manafort testified.

Manafort, through his political consulting firms (first, Davis Manafort Partners, then DMP International), controlled 32 foreign bank accounts in Cyprus, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and the United Kingdom, set up by Cypriot lawyer Kypros Chrysostomides, referred to in court as "Dr. K" due to his name's hard pronunciation and spelling for non-Greek speakers.

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

"I think that's within the outer envelopes of reasonable".

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