Government rests in ex-Trump campaign chief Manafort's fraud trial

Hannah Rogers
August 17, 2018

PHOTO: Paul Manafort, former campaign manager for Donald Trump, arrives at federal court in Washington, June 15, 2018.

For the tax evasion charges against Manafort from 2012 to 2014, the prosecutors' case hinges on whether Manafort willfully failed to report on his tax returns that he owned foreign bank accounts.

The case against Manafort does not relate to any allegations of Russian election interference or possible coordination with the Trump campaign, the main thrust of Mueller's investigation. Gates struck a plea deal with prosecutors and has provided much of the drama of the trial so far. Gates was forced to admit embezzling hundreds of thousands of dollars from Manafort and an extramarital affair.

The prosecution has introduced a trove of documentary evidence as they've sought to prove Manafort committed 18 separate criminal counts. The admittedly impatient judge has pushed the government to speed up its case.

The banker, James Brennan of Federal Savings Bank, put the finishing touches on how his bank's founder and chairman, Stephen Calk, assisted in Manafort's fraud by pushing $16 million in loans the bank knew were too risky to give.

Manafort got a $9.5 million loan from the bank in November 2016, coinciding with the election, and a $6.5 million loan in January 2017, Trump's inauguration.

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

That information led senior executives to reject one of the loans. He said on the stand Monday he would never have given that rating if Calk hadn't pressured him.

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

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"The 3 individuals are people who I believe advance DT agenda".

Friedrich became the second federal judge to find that higher-court precedents "make clear that the Acting Attorney General has the necessary statutory authority" to name a special counsel under the appointments clause of the Constitution. "His background is strong in defense issues, management and finance".

The list of "Perspective Rolls (sic)", as Calk wrote, included the top jobs at Treasury, Defense, Commerce and Housing and Urban Development.

In all, the bank lost $11.8 million on the loans it made to Manafort, Brennan said.

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.

The trappings of Manafort's lifestyle dominated media headlines throughout the trial: there was half a million dollars worth of antique rugs, $750,000 spent on landscaping for his $13 million Bridgehampton mansion, and more than $1 million for clothing, including a $15,000 jacket made of ostrich skin. Ellis took the motion under advisement. On Monday, defense lawyers filed a sealed motion, and prosecutors filed a response also under seal.

Brennan, who testified under a grand of immunity from prosecution, told the federal court jury that institution raised serious concerns about Manafort's misstatements of income, credit card delinquency and his failure to disclose existing mortgages on at least two properties as part of his 2016 loan applications.

The prosecution pressed Ellis to alter instructions about comments the judge had made to emphasize that they should not be considered by the jury.

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