Prosecutors wrapping up case at Manafort fraud trial

Kevin Downing Thomas Zehnle

Kevin Downing Thomas Zehnle

Special counsel Robert Mueller's team is reportedly asking Judge T.S. Ellis, who is overseeing the trial of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, to tell the jury he crossed the line by attacking prosecutors.

As Law&Crime's Colin Kalmbacher reported of the courtroom happenings on Wednesday, Judge Ellis appeared to have forgotten that he had allowed a witness to sit in and hear testimony.

Robert Mueller's legal team filed a motion against Ellis Friday morning, claiming the judge was "unfairly criticizing them" in front of the jury, adding it may impact their final decision.

Later after bringing court back into session, he strongly reminded jurors that they weren't to discuss the tax evasion and bank fraud case with anyone. When I exclude witnesses, I mean everybody.

But in their filing, prosecutors attached a transcript showing that in fact Ellis had approved the request a week before.

"The Court's reprimand of government counsel suggested to the jury-incorrectly-that the government had acted improperly and in contravention of Court rules", the prosecutors wrote in the motion. Four of Manafort's felony counts involve the $16 million in loans.

Manafort later asked the incoming administration to consider tapping Calk for secretary of the army, according to testimony earlier in the week.

Hours later, when prosecutors tried to introduce an exhibit that was dozens of pages long, Ellis interjected: "There might be some kind soul on the jury who thinks they need to leaf through all this stuff - and it isn't true". "You're going to go ahead now, I'm going to permit that, but I want you to remember that", Ellis said, according to Politico.

"Judges should be patient". "It made me very uncomfortable", Raico testified.

The testimony, stretching across three days, created an extraordinary courtroom showdown between the two former Trump campaign aides who were indicted together by Mueller but who have since opted for radically different strategies: Manafort is the lone American charged by Mueller to opt for trial, whereas Gates pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate by testifying against his former boss.

It's related to their work for Ukraine's pro-Russian government, before they worked for Donald Trump's election campaign.

On the stand this week, Gates said Manafort asked if he would "do him a favour" and sign a letter that attributed the cost of the tickets to him.

Melinda James, a Citizens Bank mortgage loan assistant, testified that Manafort told the bank that a New York City property would be used as a second residence, but she found it listed as a rental on a real estate website.

While Gates' offered a firsthand account of a co-conspirator, prosecutors have largely sought to make their case through documentary evidence to demonstrate Manafort controlled offshore bank accounts containing millions of dollars.

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