Paul Manafort’s Defense Rests Without Calling a Witness or Presenting a Case

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Manafort, right, and Rick Gates are shown while on Donald Trump's campaign team at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland on July 17, 2016.

Paul Manafort and his legal team decided on Tuesday not to present defense witnesses in his trial on fraud charges.

The prosecution wrapped up on Monday and called up more than two dozen people to testify.

Doing so can also send a signal to jurors that the burden of proving a crime rests with the prosecution and defendants don't have to prove their innocence.

A USA judge also dismissed Mr Manafort's motion to throw out all 18 charges filed against him by Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Manafort's lawyers asked the judge to toss out all the charges, but they focused in particular on four bank-fraud charges. On Tuesday afternoon, the jurors were recalled to hear of the defense team's decision, and then dismissed for the day.

"Do you wish to testify?"

Gates recounted helping Manafort hide his income in foreign bank accounts and trick banks into extending him loans that he was not qualified to receive. Witnesses depicted the former Trump campaign chairman as using millions of dollars hidden in offshore accounts to fund a luxurious lifestyle - and later obtaining millions more in bank loans under false pretenses.

If found guilty, Mr Manafort could spend the rest of his life in jail.

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The defense also attacked the prosecution's key witness, Manafort's former protégé Rick Gates, who testified that he and Manafort falsified documents presented to banks and the IRS.

Manafort lawyer Kevin Downing said Manafort's legal team chose not to mount a defense because US prosecutors had not met the legal bar needed to prove their case.

Manafort's lawyers have told the jury that Gates, not Manafort, was responsible for any criminal acts and that they should not trust a liar who admitted marital infidelity as well as stealing from Manafort.

"By taking the stand, Manafort had little to gain and a lot to lose", Mintz said. Manafort himself chose not to testify. Prosecutor Greg Andres, who has had the strongest confrontations with Ellis, said "yes". "The side with the best paper usually wins, and in this case, all the paper is on the prosecution's side, and there's nearly no paper on the defense side".

Cotter also expressed skepticism that a "blame Gates" strategy had much hope of success for Manafort.

The move followed arguments on a motion for acquittal filed by the defense. The judge has said that the sealed matter will become public once the trial is over.

The decision by the defense to rest Tuesday came a day after prosecutors concluded their financial fraud and tax evasion case against Manafort on Monday. Manafort's defense rested Tuesday morning without calling a single witness.

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