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Jury set to begin deliberations in Paul Manafort trial

Jurors are set to begin deliberating Thursday morning whether to convict President Donald Trump's former cam...

Posted: Aug 16, 2018 9:57 AM
Updated: Aug 16, 2018 9:57 AM

Jurors are set to begin deliberating Thursday morning whether to convict President Donald Trump's former campaign manager Paul Manafort of bank fraud and tax evasion.

The high-stakes prosecution of Manafort by special counsel Robert Mueller's team reached its conclusion with Wednesday's closing arguments -- with prosecutors accusing Manafort of "lies" and defense lawyers questioning the credibility of key witnesses.

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"Mr. Manafort lied to keep more money when he had it, and he lied to get more money when he didn't," said prosecutor Greg Andres. "This is a case about lies."

The jury is scheduled to begin deliberations at 9:30 a.m. ET on Thursday. Judge T.S. Ellis instructed jurors Wednesday evening not to communicate with anyone about the trial.

"Nothing about a cellphone or an iPhone -- goodness, this is now outdated -- a BlackBerry," Ellis said.

The case played out while Trump and the political world watched. Personal revelations about Manafort -- such as his ownership of a $15,000 ostrich jacket -- provided sparks over the course of the 12-day trial.

As the trial reached its end -- with Manafort's defense team deciding not to call any witnesses and arguing that prosecutors hadn't met their burden of proof -- Trump and his lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, watched, continuing to question the credibility of the special counsel's investigation from afar.

RELATED: Giuliani claims Mueller waiting for Manafort verdict to negotiate Trump interview

A win for Mueller's team would send shock waves through Trump's orbit of aides, friends and outside advisers and would heighten anticipation for Mueller's next moves. A loss would increase the chorus of calls for Mueller's investigation to end.

Manafort's defense attorneys suggested Wednesday that the entire prosecution was politically motivated.

Defense attorney Richard Westling said Manafort became the special counsel's victim in a "selective process of pulling" his financial records to concoct a narrative of an "elaborate fraud scheme."

It was "not until the special counsel showed up and started asking questions" that anyone seemed concerned about Manafort's dealings with banks, Westling said, noting that none of the banks involved reported the alleged frauds to the authorities.

He said the special counsel's goal was to "stack up the counts" against Manafort.

Ellis, the judge, instructed the jury not to consider the Manafort team's characterizations of Mueller's team's motives.

'This is a case about lies'

In his closing, Andres argued that Manafort had lied -- repeating the word to the jury several times. He said Manafort had hid his income from Ukraine, lied to federal authorities and defrauded banks.

Manafort's emails, memos and financial records were "littered with lies," Andres said.

He alleged that Manafort's tax returns from 2010 through 2014 are false, and told jurors they must find that Manafort willfully and knowingly lied on the official IRS forms about his income and foreign accounts.

The prosecutor punctuated this by showing the first of several emails the jury would revisit Wednesday -- in which Manafort called one of the 31 foreign accounts "my account." Manafort wrote it "when no one was looking. He did not know one day he would be sitting in this very courtroom," Andres said.

'I'm not asking you to like him'

The testimony of Rick Gates, Manafort's former deputy, took center stage on both sides Wednesday.

Gates has pleaded guilty to crimes in federal court in Washington and is cooperating with Mueller's team. He admitted last week in court to having embezzled money from Manafort and having an extramarital affair a decade ago.

Andres told jurors that before they even consider the potentially fraught testimony of Gates, they should look to 10 other witnesses' testimony and evidence to find Manafort guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

"The star witness in this case is the documents," Andres said.

"Mr. Manafort is a mentor to Mr. Gates, particularly to his own criminal activity," Andres said. He added that Manafort "didn't choose a Boy Scout" to be his partner in crime.

And what about Gates' admitted affair? "Was it to distract you? Does it matter?" Andres asked the jury.

He pointed out that Manafort's lawyers never asked Gates about the alleged bank fraud.

"I'm not asking you to like him," Andres said.

Defense attorney Kevin Downing said Gates "fell apart and showed himself the liar that he is" on the witness stand.

"To the very end, he lied to you," Downing said.

Defense argues Manafort was targeted in 'selective process'

All eyes had been on the defense after it rested without calling any witnesses, with Downing saying Tuesday as he was leaving the courthouse that the defense rested its case because "the government has not met its burden of proof."

Westling referenced Manafort's work on Trump's presidential campaign minutes into his closing, calling Manafort a seasoned political consultant who had earned "great respect" for his work.

Westling also implored the jurors to consider the high burden of proof the government must meet to prove that Manafort is guilty "beyond a reasonable doubt."

"Hold the government to its burden, ladies and gentleman," Westling urged the jurors.

Westling conceded that the evidence against Manafort includes emails. But, he contended, "the problem of email evidence is very much the challenge of what does it look like later."

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 293542

Reported Deaths: 6638
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto19601229
Hinds18712386
Harrison16569277
Rankin12637263
Jackson12483219
Lee9671160
Madison9420196
Jones7914146
Forrest7159136
Lauderdale6798226
Lowndes6014137
Lamar585880
Lafayette5716113
Washington5182129
Bolivar4599121
Oktibbeha440391
Panola428392
Pearl River4138128
Warren4122113
Pontotoc408068
Marshall400392
Monroe3981126
Union393673
Neshoba3777167
Lincoln3491100
Hancock341674
Leflore3363118
Sunflower317385
Tate301574
Pike299193
Scott292868
Alcorn290760
Itawamba289072
Yazoo284962
Coahoma276367
Tippah276165
Copiah276057
Simpson272778
Prentiss268858
Leake252171
Marion251578
Wayne251541
Covington248278
Grenada246277
Adams233377
George231145
Newton226352
Winston221375
Jasper212744
Tishomingo211965
Attala206369
Chickasaw200851
Holmes181770
Clay178250
Stone171829
Tallahatchie170039
Clarke168971
Calhoun157128
Smith152431
Yalobusha143536
Greene127233
Walthall123640
Noxubee122829
Perry121434
Montgomery121338
Lawrence119521
Carroll117923
Amite110932
Webster110030
Jefferson Davis101231
Tunica98823
Claiborne97929
Benton93324
Humphreys92427
Kemper89623
Quitman77114
Franklin75619
Choctaw69516
Wilkinson62226
Jefferson61927
Sharkey48817
Issaquena1676
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 491849

Reported Deaths: 9869
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson707641366
Mobile35937724
Madison32307450
Tuscaloosa24024410
Montgomery22502499
Shelby21848214
Baldwin19698277
Lee14926151
Morgan13624251
Calhoun13202285
Etowah13154319
Marshall11243208
Houston10058259
Limestone9348134
Elmore9345182
Cullman8879179
St. Clair8799221
Lauderdale8588210
DeKalb8436174
Talladega7500163
Walker6509251
Jackson6483102
Autauga622890
Blount6084125
Colbert6004118
Coffee5235102
Dale4627106
Russell402930
Franklin398876
Covington3949106
Chilton386298
Escambia377472
Tallapoosa3572141
Clarke343149
Chambers3399108
Dallas3397141
Pike292972
Lawrence282284
Marion281295
Winston246266
Bibb244560
Geneva238870
Marengo233755
Pickens223954
Barbour210651
Hale209068
Fayette199956
Butler195265
Henry182041
Cherokee176438
Monroe166038
Randolph163140
Washington156334
Crenshaw144054
Clay143454
Macon141643
Cleburne137139
Lamar132432
Lowndes130749
Wilcox121425
Bullock116336
Conecuh106523
Perry105427
Sumter98331
Coosa88623
Greene87132
Choctaw54923
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