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.

2016 Presidential election

Continents and regions

Court trials

Court witnesses

Crime, law enforcement and corrections

Criminal law

Eastern Europe

Elections (by type)

Elections and campaigns

Europe

Government and public administration

Investigations

Law and legal system

Law courts and tribunals

Paul Manafort

Political candidates

Political Figures - US

Politics

Russia

Russia meddling investigation

Trial and procedure

US Federal elections

US Presidential elections

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.

Confirmed Cases: 93087

Reported Deaths: 2809
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds6956155
DeSoto539355
Harrison372772
Jackson337867
Madison320086
Rankin318875
Lee258567
Jones239978
Forrest238270
Washington217471
Lafayette207239
Lauderdale1994124
Bolivar179065
Oktibbeha174750
Lamar162134
Neshoba1534103
Panola144027
Sunflower141144
Lowndes139857
Warren138050
Leflore136280
Pontotoc122516
Pike120948
Monroe118365
Scott116125
Copiah115933
Coahoma112327
Holmes109158
Marshall107515
Lincoln106253
Grenada105335
Yazoo103629
Simpson101243
Union97824
Tate95137
Leake93937
Adams91736
Wayne87421
Pearl River86250
Marion84133
Prentiss80817
Covington80622
Alcorn76811
Newton75623
Itawamba75221
Tallahatchie74918
George74413
Winston72319
Tishomingo65737
Chickasaw65224
Tippah64216
Attala64125
Walthall59325
Clay57117
Hancock56121
Jasper54915
Noxubee54315
Clarke53539
Smith52114
Calhoun50612
Tunica47913
Montgomery45420
Claiborne45116
Lawrence42512
Yalobusha41614
Perry40617
Humphreys37315
Quitman3735
Stone35011
Greene34317
Webster33113
Jefferson Davis32511
Amite31210
Carroll31212
Wilkinson30217
Kemper28615
Sharkey26312
Jefferson2399
Benton2181
Franklin1893
Choctaw1785
Issaquena1033
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 128818

Reported Deaths: 2284
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson18911337
Mobile13039289
Montgomery8628173
Madison750775
Tuscaloosa7180114
Lee570559
Shelby564550
Baldwin504749
Marshall382143
Etowah333447
Calhoun332039
Morgan318126
Houston269922
Elmore251947
DeKalb234619
St. Clair221335
Walker220780
Talladega205026
Limestone197319
Cullman183017
Franklin174128
Dallas173626
Russell17112
Autauga167324
Lauderdale164133
Colbert159326
Escambia155725
Blount154214
Jackson149411
Chilton147127
Dale132743
Covington130227
Coffee12708
Pike11519
Tallapoosa113183
Chambers112342
Clarke104917
Marion93728
Butler90838
Barbour8307
Marengo69919
Winston69912
Lowndes64527
Pickens63114
Bibb62810
Hale61228
Randolph60712
Bullock58514
Lawrence58220
Monroe5758
Geneva5634
Cherokee55516
Washington54413
Perry5376
Clay5367
Wilcox53011
Conecuh52311
Crenshaw52231
Macon47620
Henry4674
Fayette4189
Sumter41819
Lamar3452
Choctaw34412
Cleburne3206
Greene30015
Coosa1613
Out of AL00
Unassigned00
Tupelo
Few Clouds
78° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 58°
Feels Like: 79°
Columbus
Clear
80° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 59°
Feels Like: 81°
Oxford
Clear
73° wxIcon
Hi: 80° Lo: 56°
Feels Like: 73°
Starkville
Clear
77° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 56°
Feels Like: 78°
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather