Paul Manafort’s trial in front of Judge T.S. Ellis III in Alexandria, Virginia, has taken some interesting turns over the past couple of weeks. There was a lengthy break from the action last Friday, which led some people to speculate that President Donald Trump’s former campaign manager might be ready to take a deal of sorts. Nothing of that nature developed, however, and on Tuesday, the defense noted it was ready to rest its case.
NBC News details that the defense called no witnesses in Paul Manafort’s fraud trial. His attorneys did make a motion for acquittal, but Ellis listened to arguments and denied the motion. Manafort pleaded not guilty to all of the charges involved in this federal case, which consists of 18 charges and focuses on allegations of tax fraud, bank fraud, and Manafort’s supposed failure to report numerous foreign bank accounts.
As the Washington Post details, the prosecution rested its case on Monday. Many people had wondered if Manafort might choose to take the stand during the defense portion of the trial. However, he ultimately did not testify and the defense chose not to call any witnesses at all.
The courtroom was sealed for about two hours on Tuesday morning, and no explanation for the delay was provided. After Ellis heard arguments from both sides regarding the motion for acquittal, he sided with the prosecuting team and presented the defense with the opportunity to present its case. Manafort’s attorney Kevin Downing said that the defense was resting, and Ellis went on to question Manafort directly to ensure he was sound in his decision.
Ellis has scheduled closing arguments to begin Wednesday morning and he will provide jury instructions after that. Many had anticipated that the Manafort jury would begin deliberating as early as the middle of this week, and things seem fairly on track for that schedule.
Most experts seem to agree that things do not look promising for Manafort at this point. There has been a significant amount of speculation swirling that Manafort may be counting on a pardon from Trump, and the president’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani had even hinted at the possibility.
However, numerous experts suggest that Trump granting a pardon to Manafort in this instance could be problematic for both the president and his former campaign chairman. Regardless of the jury’s decision in this Virginia trial, Paul Manafort faces another trial this fall in Washington, D.C., and he’s certainly got his work cut out for him if he wants to regain his freedom.