Bank Prez Opposed Manafort Loan Approved By Bank CEO Trump Adviser

Erika Holt
August 17, 2018

Prosecutors with the team of special counsel Robert Mueller on Monday rested the government's case against former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, wrapping up more than two weeks of testimony alleging he hid millions of dollars offshore and failed to pay taxes on that money.

He's also been accused of fraudulently obtaining millions more in bank loans, including while he was working on the Trump campaign.

After that, if the judge allows the trial to move forward, Manafort's defense attorneys will get the chance to make their own case.

On his way out of the courthouse, defense attorney Kevin Downing said that the defense rested its case because "the government has not met its burden of proof".

Gates testified last week that Manafort, his former boss, directed him to help commit the tax and bank frauds, but the defence portrayed him as living a "secret life" of infidelity and embezzlement.

In the course of testimony from more than two dozen prosecution witnesses, the biggest arguments were not between prosecutors and defense lawyers, but between prosecutors and U.S. District Court Judge T.S. Ellis III.

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. The defense has tried to blame Manafort's financial mistakes on his former deputy, Rick Gates.

Dan Goldman, a former federal prosecutor who attended the proceedings, called the action by Manafort's lawyers "pro-forma", adding, "very rarely are they successful".

James Brennan, a vice president at Federal Savings Bank, which issued two loans worth a total of $16 million, testified Monday that Manafort didn't declare on his applications that he had mortgages on two properties in NY - information that would have made it harder for him to secure a loan.

The testimony, on the 10th day of Manafort's financial fraud trial, comes as the prosecution is expected to rest its case later Monday.

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"We believe there's not been a showing of materiality as to those counts, that the bank - the evidence suggests that the bank did not rely on any representations made by Mr. Manafort in granting those loans, and at this time, it would be appropriate to dismiss those counts", defense attorney Richard Westling said in court Monday evening. Neither Manafort nor Gates have been charged in connection with their Trump campaign work.

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

Still, the proceedings have drawn President Donald Trump's attention - and tweets - as he works to undermine the standing of the Mueller investigation in the public square. Gates struck a plea deal with prosecutors and has provided much of the drama of the trial so far.

But defense lawyers highlighted his admission that he initially lied to the special counsel, embezzled hundreds of thousands of dollars from Manafort's company, and had at least one extramarital affair.

When Manafort changed the terms of a proposed loan, the bank's president wanted to reject it but was overruled by Calk, Brennan testified.

The motion was for acquittal of the bank fraud counts related to Federal Savings Bank. Ellis took the motion under advisement.

"The government rests", U.S. prosecutor Greg Andres said after the agent completed her testimony. Ellis made this clear during his brief conversation with Manafort.

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

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

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