Manafort's defense rests after calling no witnesses

Manafort's defense rests after calling no witnesses

Lawyers for Paul Manafort will have the opportunity on Tuesday to put up their defense, a day after US prosecutors rested their case against the former campaign chairman for President Donald Trump in his trial over alleged tax and bank fraud.

Manafort is being tried on 18 counts, which include tax and bank fraud charges, as well the failure to disclose foreign bank accounts.

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 defense also pushed Gates to address allegations that he embezzled "several hundred thousand" dollars from Manafort to finance an apartment in London where Gates had an extra-marital affair.

Closing arguments in the case are scheduled for Wednesday morning. They also say he later defrauded banks. Prosecutors are nearing the end of presenting their case, and the jury is expected to get the case later this week.

"It closed because Mr. Calk wanted it to close", bank employee James Brennan said.

When asked by prosecutors why the loan received a 4 rating, Brennan said it was because of "Mr. Calk", referring to the bank's founder, Stephen Calk. The case stands as the first major test for special counsel Robert Mueller, who is now 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.

Before he had even rated the loan deal with Manafort, Calk had decided that the deal was getting done, Brennan testified, even though if it was up to him or Calk's other two credit committee members, TFSB would have pulled out of the deal over multiple discrepancies in Manafort's reported income and a $300,000 debt that he owed on his American Express card from a New York Yankees season ticket purchase.

The hearing comes after the judge delayed Manafort's trial for hours last Friday without explanation.

Former Indian PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee passes away
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Prior to the prosecution resting, a bank official testified that the Federal Savings Bank gave Manafort $16 million in loans and knew that he lied about his financial situation before they were approved by the bank's chairman.

Other witnesses have said Calk pushed the loans through because he wanted a plum post in the Trump administration.

After announcing that they were resting their case, Downing told reporters outside the courthouse that "he did so because he and his legal team believe that the government has not met its burden of proof". On Monday, defense lawyers filed a sealed motion, and prosecutors filed a response also under seal.

Ellis, in making his ruling, said that the defense made a "significant" argument, but ultimately ruled the question "is an issue for the jury".

At one point, Judge Ellis left the courtroom and headed toward the jury room.

As his business hemorrhaged money, Manafort made a decision to take out loans on various properties he owned, but prosecutors say he lied about his debts and income to get those loans approved.

One of Manafort's lawyers, Thomas Zehnle, said they plan to tell the jury that Manafort had no obligation to report foreign bank accounts in the years he owned only 50 percent of his firm, Davis Manafort International.

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