Prosecutors wrapping up case at Manafort fraud trial

Marsha Scott
August 11, 2018

A Chicago bank chief pushed for $16 million USA in loans to Paul Manafort in return for help landing a post in the incoming Trump administration, a witness in the former Trump campaign chairman's federal fraud trial testified on Friday.

While the jury was present, Ellis said this to Assistant U.S. Attorney Uzo Asonye: "You might want to spend time on a loan that was granted".

Ellis criticized the prosecution Thursday afternoon after it spent 40 minutes questioning a witness about Paul Manafort's apparent failed attempt to get a $5.5 million loan.

When Raico started discussing loans with Manafort, Raico called Calk, who is the CEO and founder of the bank at 300 N. Elizabeth. Earlier Friday, the prosecutors asked Ellis III to correct an earlier statement in which the judge suggested they were wasting the court's time.

The prosecutors, in Friday's motion, asked Ellis to retract his comment, saying it "misrepresents the law regarding bank fraud conspiracy" and "improperly conveys the Court's opinion of the facts, and is likely to confuse and mislead the jury".

According to Talking Points Memo, Judge Ellis specifically acquiesced to the request on July 31, specifically asking who the witness was and his field of expertise before granting the motion.

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The developments came after weeks of testimony that was sometimes tedious and based on bank and other records.

Neither man was charged in connection with their Trump campaign work, but the trial has nonetheless been closely watched by a president who insists Manafort was treated shabbily and who continues to fume publicly about Mueller's investigation into potential ties between his associates and the Kremlin.

Though substantive, untelevised and far from a Trump-style reality show, the trial has featured some drama when star witness Gates testified against his former boss.

Defense lawyers saw an opening to undermine his testimony by painting him as a liar and a philanderer, getting him to acknowledge an extramarital affair and reminding jurors how he had lied to Mueller's team while working out a plea deal for himself. When the two were first brought face-to-face in the courtroom, Manafort's gaze bore down on his former protege and rarely wandered. That distinction matters because banks regard loans for rental, or investment, properties as riskier and may impose restrictions, including on how much money they're willing to lend. Along the way, they've not only faced an aggressive defence team but tongue-lashings, and a rare walk-back, from Ellis. One prosecutor noted that the judge had granted permission for the agent to attend. But I want you to remember don't do that again.

On Thursday, Ellis expressed regret after prosecutors filed a similar motion complaining Ellis unfairly reprimanded them in front of the jury over allowing a witness sit in the courtroom before his testimony. "You may put that aside..."

Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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