Risking It All: Manafort Rests Defense Without Calling Witnesses, Presenting Evidence

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Kevin Daley Supreme Court correspondent
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Lawyers for former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort will not call witnesses or present evidence, resting their defense early Tuesday afternoon in the first criminal trial arising from special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

By resting the defense without presenting a case, Manafort lawyers are effectively telling the jury that the prosecution has clearly failed to meet its burden. This tactic is common during criminal trials.

Speaking on Fox News Tuesday, former federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy speculated that the defense was so satisfied with its cross-examination of onetime Manafort confidant Rick Gates that it did not feel compelled to present its own evidence.

Before resting their case, Manafort’s attorneys asked Judge T.S. Ellis III to dismiss all charges against him, a request defense lawyers make as a matter of course once the prosecution concludes its presentations of evidence and witnesses. Ellis rejected the motion.

Manafort is standing trial at a federal courthouse in Alexandria, Va. for 18 counts of fraud. He faces decades in prison if convicted, which at 69 is practically a life sentence. (RELATED: Manafort Judge Says There’s A ‘Real Chance’ He Will Die In Prison)

A second criminal trial will follow this autumn in Washington, D.C. for money laundering, conspiracy against the United States, making false statements and violations of the Foreign Agents Registration Act.

Closing arguments will follow on Wednesday morning, then the jury will begin deliberations.

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