Paul Manafort’s Defense Rests Without Calling Witnesses

Paul Manafort
The Associated Press

Paul Manafort’s defense relied solely on cross-examination of the prosecution’s witnesses before resting on Tuesday.

Manafort is accused of fraudulent banking and tax activities, including deceiving banks into granting loans and hiding his income from tax authorities. U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III has already denied a motion by the defense to automatically acquit Manafort due to lack of evidence.

The trial recessed for two hours so that Judge Ellis could review a sealed motion by the defense. When it resumed, he asked whether they had a defense to present. Kevin Downing, Manafort’s lawyer, simply said that “the defense rests.” Finally, Ellis told Manafort that “you have the absolute right to testify and you have the absolute right not to testify,” and that the jury would be advised not to let Manafort’s decision impact their own.

Manafort declined. With “no chance” of a deal with Special Counsel Robert Mueller, Manafort will submit himself to the decision of the court.