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Manafort jury deliberations to begin Thursday

Photo: Associated Press, Jacquelyn Martin

Jurors in the financial fraud trial of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort are set to begin their deliberations.

Posted: Aug 15, 2018 5:02 PM

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (AP) - Jurors in the financial fraud trial of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort are set to begin their deliberations.

After closing arguments wrapped up Wednesday afternoon, U.S. District Judge T. S. Ellis lll spent an hour and a half giving his instructions to the jury and then told them they will begin deliberating Thursday morning.

The judge's instructions included telling jurors that they are not to consider whether the Department of Justice had any motive in prosecuting Manafort.

Manafort faces charges of filing false tax returns, failing to report foreign bank accounts and bank fraud.


6:30 p.m.

A lawyer for Paul Manafort says he feels "very good" about the former Trump campaign chairman's chances of being acquitted in his financial fraud trial.

Attorney Kevin Downing says Manafort is "very happy with how things went today." He also says Manafot was grateful that his attorneys argued to the jury that the prosecution had not met its burden of proof.

Downing made the comments as he was leaving the federal courthouse in Alexandria, Virginia, where jurors have heard nearly three weeks of testimony in the trial.

Manafort faces charges of filing false tax returns, failing to report foreign bank accounts and bank fraud. The jury begins deliberations Thursday.


4:55 p.m.

Closing arguments in the financial fraud trial of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort have finished after four hours.

Prosecutors emphasized the government's trove of documentary evidence against Manafort and also scoffed at defense lawyers' attacks on key prosecution witness Rick Gates, Manafort's former deputy.

Greg Andres, a prosecutor for special counsel Robert Mueller's team, said many documents were signed by Manafort alone and that other documents show Manafort instructing Gates how to proceed.

Andres said the defense wants to make the case about Gates, but "they haven't explained the dozens of documents Mr. Manafort's name is on."


3:30 p.m.

Federal prosecutors trying former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort say his defense attorneys violated several of the judge's orders in their closing arguments in his financial fraud trial.

Prosecutor Greg Andres told the judge that Manafort's attorneys argued he was selectively prosecuted by the special counsel's office. U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III had specifically ruled before the trial that that argument couldn't be made because it wasn't relevant to the charges at hand.

Andres also noted that defense attorney Kevin Downing told jurors four times that the case should have been handled by an IRS audit rather than a criminal prosecution. Ellis had also barred those references.

Ellis said he is likely to address those issues in his instructions to the jury.


3:05 p.m.

In his closing arguments, the defense lawyer for former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort has ripped the credibility of the government's most high-profile witness, Manafort's former top deputy, Rick Gates.

Gates struck a plea deal with prosecutors and his testimony against Manafort provided much of the drama during the financial fraud trial.

Defense lawyer Kevin Downing said Wednesday that the government was so desperate to make a case against Manafort that it gave Gates a sweetheart plea deal and Gates was eager to say whatever the government wanted so it would not recommend he serve any jail time.

Downing also asserted that Gates' credibility was shattered by his admissions that he repeatedly lied and stole money from Manafort.


2:05 p.m.

A lawyer for Paul Manafort is working to reduce the former Trump campaign chairman's culpability in any financial crimes. Manafort is on trial for tax and bank fraud.

Richard Westling is telling jurors during his closing argument that Manafort always worked as a team and left the particulars of his finances to other people. Westling says the fact that Manafort employed a team of accountants, bookkeepers and tax preparers shows he wasn't trying to hide anything.

Westling is seeking to blunt testimony from some of the people who handled Manafort's finances. They said he concealed offshore bank accounts and lied to them.

Westling is also reminding jurors that Manafort is presumed innocent. The attorney says the evidence against Manafort has been selectively chosen by special counsel Robert Mueller's team and doesn't show jurors the full picture.


12 p.m.

The prosecution has finished its closing argument in the tax and bank fraud trial of onetime Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, and has asked jurors to return a guilty verdict on all 18 counts.

Manafort's lawyers are expected to get their turn Wednesday afternoon.

After that, prosecutor Greg Andres will be permitted to make a brief rebuttal argument before the jury hears a lengthy set of instructions from the judge.

Andres has told jurors that Manafort lied to keep his money hidden from the IRS when he was making tens of millions of dollars advising Ukrainian politicians.

And the prosecutor says that when the Ukrainian money dried up, Manafort lied about his income to obtain loans from multiple banks.

Defense lawyers have blamed Manafort's top deputy, Richard Gates, for embezzling from Manafort and wrecking Manafort's finances.


11:35 a.m.

Prosecutors say the star witness in Paul Manafort's financial fraud trial is actually the large number of documents presented as evidence of his alleged crimes - and not the testimony of his longtime protege, Rick Gates.

Prosecutor Greg Andres tell jurors to "test" Gates' testimony against the collection of documents that he says show Manafort orchestrated a scheme to hide millions of dollars in foreign bank accounts and later to fraudulently obtain loans.

Andres says prosecutors aren't asking jurors to like Gates or take everything he said at "face value." Andres says the testimony of other witnesses and the trove of documents are enough to convict Manafort on tax evasion and bank fraud charges.

Manafort's defense team has indicated it plans to put the blame for any crimes on Gates.


10:15 a.m.

Prosecutors are presenting their closing argument in the financial fraud trial of onetime Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

Prosecutor Greg Andres is telling jurors that the case boils down to greed and deception. Andres says that when jurors follow the trail of Manafort's money, they'll find it's "littered" with lies.

Andres is making his final appeal to the jury after prosecutors spent more than two weeks putting on evidence they say proves Manafort concealed millions of dollars in offshore accounts from the IRS and later carried out a bank fraud scheme.

Manafort chose not to testify or call witness in his defense on the charges of tax evasion and bank fraud.

His lawyers are expected to make their closing argument later Wednesday.

(Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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