MIAMI (CBSMiami/CNN) — Closing arguments began in the trial of Paul Manafort with prosecutors accusing the former Trump campaign chairman of repeatedly lying in order to finance an extravagant lifestyle.
“Mr. Manafort lied to keep more money when he had it, and he lied to get more money when he didn’t,” prosecutor Greg Andres told jurors. “This is a case about lies.”
Manafort’s emails, memos and financial records were “littered with lies,” Andres added.
The trial is reaching its end as President Donald Trump and his attorney Rudy Giuliani continue to bash special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia and Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election.
A win for Mueller’s team in the high-profile prosecution of a top Trump campaign figure would send shockwaves through Trump’s orbit of aides, friends and outside advisers — and heighten anticipation for Mueller’s next moves. A loss would increase the chorus of calls for Mueller’s investigation to end.
In his closing, Andres argued that Manafort lied — repeating the word to the jury several times. He said Manafort hid his income from Ukraine, lied to federal authorities and defrauded banks.
He alleged that Manafort’s tax returns from 2010 through 2014 are false, and told jurors they must find that Manafort willfully and knowingly lied on the official IRS forms about his income and foreign accounts.
The prosecutor punctuated this by showing the first of several emails the jury will revisit today — in which Manafort called one of the 31 foreign accounts “my account.” Manafort wrote it “when no one was looking. He did not know one day he would be sitting in this very courtroom,” Andres said.
Manafort is facing 18 charges of tax and banking crimes and has pleaded not guilty to all of the charges.
What will defense do?
Eyes will be on the defense after it rested without calling any witnesses. Manafort attorney Kevin Downing said Tuesday as he was leaving the courthouse that the defense rested its case because “the government has not met its burden of proof.”
On Tuesday, Manafort spoke for the first time during the trial when he told Judge T.S. Ellis he would not be testifying during a brief questioning at the podium.
Manafort is not required to testify because of his Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination. Ellis made this clear during his conversation with Manafort.
“You have an absolute right to testify before this jury,” Ellis said. “You have an absolute right to remain silent before this jury.”
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