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Manafort's Defense Calls No Witnesses—Not Even Manafort

Defense rests, and closing arguments begin on Wednesday
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 14, 2018 12:22 PM CDT
The defense team for Paul Manafort, including Kevin Downing, center, Thomas Zehnle, right, and Richard Westling walk to federal court during the trial of the former Trump campaign chairman, Friday, Aug....   (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

(Newser) – Closing arguments are scheduled to begin Wednesday morning in the trial of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, per the AP. US District Judge TS Ellis III made the announcement after Manafort rested his case without calling witnesses or presenting evidence. Asked by Ellis whether he wished to testify in his defense, Manafort responded: "No, sir." (The exchange marked Manafort's first words during the trial, notes Politico.) The decision came after a more than two-hour hearing that was closed from the public. The judge has not given any explanation for the sealed proceeding, only noting that a transcript of it would become public after Manafort's case concludes.

Prosecutors have spent more than two weeks presenting evidence they say shows how Manafort hid millions of dollars in offshore accounts from the IRS. They also say he later defrauded banks. The decision not to have Manafort testify came after Ellis rejected a defense motion to dismiss the government's case on the theory that it failed to meet its burden of proof. Specifically, Manafort is accused of hiding millions of dollars in income he received advising Ukrainian politicians. The defense has tried to blame Manafort's financial mistakes on his former assistant, Richard Gates.

(Read more Paul Manafort stories.)

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