Lawyers for Paul Manafort rest their case, federal jury set to hear closing arguments this Wednesday

Without a defense, the jury is expected to begin deliberations after hearing closing arguments

By Shira Tarlo
Published August 14, 2018 4:40PM (EDT)
Paul Manafort (Getty/Drew Angerer)
Paul Manafort (Getty/Drew Angerer)

Paul Manafort, the political consultant known for his five-month stint as President Donald Trump's campaign chairman during the 2016 presidential election who is currently on trial in federal court in Alexandria, Virginia on bank and tax fraud charges, will not be taking the stand in his own defense.

"The defense rests," Manafort's lead attorney Kevin Downing told U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III in court on Tuesday, according to ABC News. Additional witnesses beyond Manafort were also not called to testify.

On Monday, federal prosecutors from special counsel Robert Mueller's office concluded their case. Without a defense, the jury is expected to begin deliberations after hearing closing arguments. Ellis set closing arguments for Wednesday at 9:30 a.m. ET, CNN reports. Both sides are expected to get two hours to argue the case one last time before the jury, which could begin to deliberate as early as Wednesday afternoon.

Earlier Tuesday, Ellis rejected a motion by the defense to acquit Manafort. The former Trump campaign manager is facing 18 separate criminal counts of filing false income tax returns, failure to report foreign bank and financial accounts and bank fraud in the trial in Virginia. He faces up to 305 years in prison if convicted on all counts.

Manafort also faces an additional 14 criminal counts, including charges of federal conspiracy and money laundering, in Washington. That trial is slated to begin in September in a D.C. federal courthouse.

He has also been charged with obstruction of justice and witness tampering, alongside Konstantin Kilimnik, a close business associate from Russia.

Manafort was indicted in October, along with his longtime business associate Rick Gates, who has since pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate with prosecutors investigating the pair's work for a pro-Russian political party in Ukraine.

Earlier this year, John Dean, one of the most prominent figures in the scandal that ended the presidency of Richard Nixon, speculated on Twitter that Trump could be nearing his own Watergate moment after Gates, who was also worked on the president's 2016 campaign, pleaded guilty of conspiracy against the U.S.

"Mueller is throwing everything he can against Manafort, including Gates who can nail him," Dean tweeted. "Increasingly it appears Manafort is the link to Russian collusion. If Gates can testify that Manafort was acting with Trump's blessings, it's the end of his presidency."

In a second tweet, Dean indicated the possibility that Trump could pardon Manafort as a non-issue.

"A number of folks have expressed concern in this Manafort thread that Trump will pardon him," Dean wrote. "Many of the counts in both the VA and DC indictments have state law counterparts that can be charged in NY and VA, where Trump had no pardon power. Checkmate is coming for Paul Manafort."

Trump has previously defended Manafort in comments to reporters, saying that his former campaign manager "has nothing to do with our campaign, but I will tell you I feel a little badly about it. They went back 12 years to get things that he did 12 years ago."

"You know, Paul Manafort worked for me for a very short period of time," the president continued. "He worked for Ronald Reagan. He worked for Bob Dole. He worked for many other he worked for me, what, 49 days or something. Very short period of time."

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Shira Tarlo

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