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Defense rests in Paul Manafort trial; closing arguments Wednesday

The defense rested its case Tuesday morning in the trial against former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafor...

Posted: Aug 15, 2018 11:05 AM
Updated: Aug 15, 2018 11:05 AM

The defense rested its case Tuesday morning in the trial against former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort without calling any witnesses, setting the stage for closing arguments Wednesday morning.

Manafort spoke for the first time in court during the trial, saying he will not testify.

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Manafort told Judge T.S. Ellis that he would not testify during a brief questioning at the podium before the jury was brought in the room. Manafort is not required to testify because of his Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination. Ellis made this clear during his brief conversation with Manafort.

"You have an absolute right to testify before this jury," Ellis said. "You have an absolute right to remain silent before this jury."

On his way out of the courthouse, defense attorney Kevin Downing said that the defense rested its case because "the government has not met its burden of proof."

Closing arguments are scheduled to begin at 9:30 a.m. ET on Wednesday, and Ellis encouraged both sides to keep them under two hours.

Manafort faces 18 charges of tax and banking crimes and has pleaded not guilty to all of the charges. The case stands as the first major test for special counsel Robert Mueller, who is currently leading the probe into allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election -- including whether there was any collusion between President Donald Trump campaign associates and the Kremlin.

Why didn't Manafort testify?

In some ways, it wasn't a surprise that Manafort didn't testify on his own behalf.

Any statements he made in court could be used against him in other trials -- including his upcoming trial in Washington, DC, on foreign lobbying violations. The trial, which is expected to begin in mid-September, will be tried by some of the same prosecutors handling the current case in Northern Virginia.

If he were to testify, Manafort also would have also opened himself up to cross-examination by the prosecutors, and would have had to explain several emails and banking forms with his name and signature on them.

But it's more surprising that the defense team did not present any evidence or call any witnesses, even people who could testify to Manafort's character.

It's possible the defense believes it has created enough doubt in the jurors' minds through their questioning of prosecution witnesses over the last 10 days, and that it might have a leg up in the way jurors will be instructed to decide the case, especially given Ellis' inclinations.

Earlier Tuesday, Ellis said he would instruct the jury to think about the "materiality" of the question of whether Federal Savings Bank founder Stephen Calk could contribute to Manafort allegedly defrauding the bank for $16 million in loans.

Calk, because he was a significant shareholder at the bank, could in theory loan to anyone he wished -- even someone who was lying on paper -- if Calk had the personal want for Manafort's boost in politics, the defense team argued.

"In the end, I think the defendant makes a significant argument about materiality," Ellis said Tuesday. "But in the end I think materiality is an issue for the jury."

Judge denies request to throw out charges

Ellis denied Manafort's request to throw out bank fraud and other charges against him, after considering a procedural motion where he could have intervened if he believed the prosecution hadn't adequately presented its case to the jury.

The motion was for acquittal of the bank fraud counts related to Federal Savings Bank.

On Monday, Manafort's team formally requested the court dismiss the case, a move generally seen as procedural following the prosecution's presentation.

Manafort's defense team believed the four Federal Savings Bank fraud charges could be dismissed because of previous comments made by Ellis suggesting the bank couldn't be defrauded if its founder wanted Manafort to have the loans.

"We believe there's not been a showing of materiality as to those counts, that the bank -- the evidence suggests that the bank did not rely on any representations made by Mr. Manafort in granting those loans, and at this time, it would be appropriate to dismiss those counts," defense attorney Richard Westling said in court Monday evening.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 348496

Reported Deaths: 7556
CountyCasesDeaths
Hinds24427446
DeSoto23439283
Harrison21066330
Rankin15704292
Jackson15597252
Madison11114227
Lee10855179
Jones9181169
Forrest8960160
Lauderdale8008244
Lamar719489
Lowndes7167151
Lafayette6604125
Washington5629140
Pearl River5336153
Oktibbeha500998
Bolivar4989134
Warren4803128
Panola4801112
Marshall4725106
Pontotoc451473
Hancock438088
Union437179
Monroe4361137
Neshoba4351181
Lincoln4212116
Pike3711113
Leflore3668125
Tate354688
Alcorn353974
Sunflower350794
Adams345388
Scott344676
Yazoo342476
Copiah329868
Simpson325191
Itawamba316780
Coahoma314985
Tippah312568
Prentiss301863
Covington300184
Marion288681
Leake287875
Wayne280043
George276751
Grenada271388
Newton265964
Tishomingo240370
Winston237884
Stone234138
Jasper233148
Attala228173
Chickasaw220860
Holmes202274
Clay201154
Clarke188180
Tallahatchie185442
Calhoun183032
Smith182635
Yalobusha173141
Walthall149049
Lawrence145226
Greene141835
Amite138643
Noxubee136735
Perry135638
Montgomery133744
Carroll126831
Webster122632
Jefferson Davis118734
Tunica115827
Benton107225
Claiborne105731
Kemper103529
Humphreys101733
Franklin88324
Quitman85619
Choctaw82819
Wilkinson79332
Jefferson71928
Sharkey51818
Issaquena1736
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 589110

Reported Deaths: 11536
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson856031591
Mobile49268864
Madison37603533
Shelby27362257
Tuscaloosa27208465
Montgomery26252627
Baldwin25567329
Lee17260181
Calhoun15429334
Morgan15199291
Etowah14981370
Marshall13136235
Houston12112293
Elmore10946219
St. Clair10793252
Limestone10750158
Cullman10566205
Lauderdale10266254
DeKalb9517192
Talladega8972188
Walker7817288
Autauga7585114
Jackson7406117
Blount7382139
Colbert6721142
Coffee6382132
Dale5673117
Russell481343
Chilton4785117
Covington4763125
Franklin459081
Tallapoosa4525156
Escambia443883
Chambers3968125
Dallas3749163
Clarke371663
Marion3465107
Pike333079
Lawrence3267100
Winston299373
Bibb290965
Geneva285983
Marengo262767
Barbour252061
Pickens245762
Butler241472
Hale235978
Fayette227265
Henry214845
Monroe203041
Randolph201944
Cherokee199548
Washington185239
Macon170752
Crenshaw169458
Clay166559
Cleburne161545
Lamar151238
Lowndes145855
Wilcox132331
Bullock126542
Conecuh122132
Coosa118429
Perry110828
Sumter110433
Greene99137
Choctaw64425
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