Defense rests in trial of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort


Defense rests in trial of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort

Paul Manafort, President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman (Jose Luis Magana/AP)
Paul Manafort, President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman (Jose Luis Magana/AP)

Attorneys for Paul Manafort rested their case on Tuesday without calling any witnesses, including the former Trump campaign chairman himself, who told the judge he did not want to testify in his own defense against bank and tax fraud charges.

Mr Manafort, who has watched silently as the case against him was argued in federal court in Alexandria, Virginia, was asked by Judge T.S. Ellis whether he wanted to testify.

“No, sir,” he replied.

Asked whether he was satisfied with the advice he’d received from his attorneys, Mr Manafort said, “I am, your honor.”

Judge Ellis indicated that prosecutors and Mr Manafort’s lawyers would likely make closing arguments to the 12-person jury on Wednesday. After that, the jury is expected to receive its instructions and begin its deliberations behind closed doors.

Paul Manafort’s trial is the first courtroom test for Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who indicted him as part of an investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. election.

A conviction of Mr Manafort would undermine efforts by President Donald Trump and some Republican lawmakers to paint Mr Mueller’s inquiry as a political witch hunt, while an acquittal would be a setback for the special counsel.

Mr Manafort made millions of dollars working for pro-Russian Ukrainian politicians before he took an unpaid position with Donald Trump’s campaign that lasted five months. The charges against him involve activities that predate his tenure with the Trump campaign.

Mr Manafort has been charged with tax and bank fraud as well as failing to disclose foreign bank accounts. If found guilty on all charges, he could face eight to 10 years in prison, according to sentencing expert Justin Paperny.

US prosecutors on Monday rested their case against Mr Manafort after 10 days of testimony.

Mr Manafort’s lawyers had moved on Monday to have all the charges dismissed, in part arguing the prosecution had not proven he willingly committed crimes. The motion was a standard defense request viewed by legal experts as unlikely to succeed.

“They are all jury issues,” Judge Ellis said, explaining that he believed it should be up to the jury to decide.

The jurors were scheduled to return to the courtroom on Tuesday afternoon, when Mr Manafort’s lawyers will inform them that they have rested their case, Judge Ellis said. Then they will be let go for the day while the lawyers discuss what instructions the jury should be given before beginning their deliberations.


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