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Prosecutor: Paul Manafort's Life 'Littered With Lies'


A view of the U.S. District Courthouse as closing arguments are expected in former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort's trial on bank and tax fraud charges stemming from Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation of Russia's role in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, in Alexandria, Virginia, U.S., Aug, 15, 2018.

The life of President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort was "littered with lies" as he pursued a lavish lifestyle, a U.Sprosecutor said in his closing argument Wednesday.

"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 the 12-member jury in Manafort's tax and bank fraud case.

FILE - Paul Manafort, President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman, leaves the federal courthouse in Washington, Feb. 28, 2018.
FILE - Paul Manafort, President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman, leaves the federal courthouse in Washington, Feb. 28, 2018.

But Manafort defense attorney Richard Westling told the jury Manafort should be acquitted. He said the government had not met its burden to prove that Manafort was "guilty beyond a reasonable doubt," the standard for a conviction in the U.S. legal system.

Westling said that is the reason the defense decided to rest Its case without calling any witnesses to testify, including Manafort himself.

Westling attacked the government's contention that Manafort hid millions of dollars in offshore accounts to avoid U.S. taxes so he could fund luxurious purchases. He said Manafort had an adjusted net worth of $21.3 million at the end of 2016.

"Given this evidence, how can we say he didn't have money?" Westling said.

Westling also attacked the prosecution's star witness — Manafort's former deputy chairman in the Trump campaign Rick Gates — as a liar and a thief

FILE - Rick Gates leaves federal court in Washington, Feb. 23, 2018.
FILE - Rick Gates leaves federal court in Washington, Feb. 23, 2018.

Gates had already pleaded guilty before Manafort's trial to helping him hide millions in income from U.S. tax authorities and is awaiting sentencing.

Along with hours of testimony about Manafort's finances, Gates acknowledged he stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from Manafort in part to finance an extra-marital affair in London and lied about his own role in hiding money in offshore accounts.

The jury could get the case as early as Wednesday after the prosecution has a chance to rebut the defense's closing arguments.

Prosecutor Andres alleges that overall, Manafort "failed to pay taxes on more than $15 million" in income. It is money the government claims he used to buy palatial mansions,elaborate landscaping, fancy suits and jackets, electronics and other high-priced items.

Much of the money, the government alleges, came from Manafort's lobbying for deposed Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, who was toppled in a popular 2014 uprising in Kyiv before fleeing to exile in Russia.

But Andres alleged that when the stream of money from Yanukovych dried up four years ago, Manafort financed his luxurious lifestyle by securing about $20 million in bank loans in the U.S. by lying about his assets and debts on loan applications.

"He lied and lied again," Andres said.

If convicted, he faces a lengthy prison sentence. He also is set to stand trial on related charges next month.

Prosecutors for special counsel Robert Mueller presented two weeks of testimony against Manafort, accusing him of hiding millions of dollars in offshore accounts he earned while lobbying for Yanukovych in the years before Manafort joined Trump's campaign.

Campaign ties

The case has drawn particular interest in the U.S. because it is the first trial conducted by Mueller's prosecutors in their wide-ranging investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

They are probing whether Trump associates conspired with Russia to help Trump win the White House and whether Trump, as president, obstructed justice by trying to thwart the investigation.

However, the case against Manafort, a long-time Washington lobbyist, only peripherally touched on the campaign. Instead, it dealt almost totally on accusations about his financial transactions and what he did with the money from Yanukovych and the bank loans.