Prosecutors in the bank and tax fraud case against Paul Manafort used their closing arguments on Wednesday to paint the former Trump campaign chairman as a chronic liar, telling jurors Manafort is “not above the law.”
“Mr. Manafort lied to keep more money when he had it, and lied to get more money when he didn’t … This is a case about Mr. Manafort’s lies,” prosecutor Greg Andres said.
Manafort, 69, is facing tax evasion and bank fraud charges after being accused of hiding income earned from his Ukrainian work from the IRS. He’s also accused of fraudulently obtaining millions in bank loans.
He has pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Andres said the testimony over the last two weeks shows Manafort hid money in foreign bank accounts to spend on luxury items and real estate. He also told the jury Manafort “filed false tax returns” for five years, from 2010 to 2014.
“Mr. Manafort lied and lied again,” Andres said, accusing the defendant of not paying $15 million worth of taxes.
“He is not above the law,” Andres said.
The defense is also expected to deliver closing arguments on Wednesday before the case goes to the jury. Ellis told both sides to limit those arguments to one-and-a-half hours each.
On Wednesday, Manafort, wearing a blue suit and blue shirt, rose, along with everyone else on the courtroom as jurors took their seats. Lead defense attorney Kevin Downing patted Manafort on the back and they both smiled.
A day earlier, the defense rested their case without calling Manafort or any other witnesses the stand. Addressing the court for the first time during his trial, Manafort stood up and told Judge T.S. Ellis III that he did not want to testify.
“We believe the government has failed to meet their burden of proof and we’ve rested on that,” Downing told reporters outside court Tuesday.
Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team rested their case Monday afternoon after about two weeks of testimony from prosecution witnesses.
Before closing arguments, Ellis ruled against the defense’s motion to acquit.
Ellis, who has not shied from making colorful comments during the trial, signaled that he will tell the jury to disregard any comments he made during witness testimony that might have shown his opinion.
“Do you think I made any comments?” Ellis asked both sides on Tuesday.
After a short silence, prosecutor Andres stood and said, “Yes.”
There was audible laughter in the courtroom.
Last week, the prosecution’s star witness, Rick Gates – Manafort’s former business partner who struck a plea deal to cooperate with the government — testified that he and Manafort committed bank and tax fraud together.
Manafort’s legal troubles won’t end with this trial. He is also facing charges in a separate federal court case in Washington, including conspiring against the United States, conspiring to launder money, failing to register as an agent of a foreign principal and providing false statements.
Fox News’ Lucas Tomlinson contributed to this report.
Published at Wed, 15 Aug 2018 14:52:00 +0000