Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz said it was a wise decision by Paul Manafort’s lawyers to keep him off the stand and credited them with posing a “strong argument” on behalf of their client Wednesday on Fox News’s “America’s Newsroom.”
Dershowitz said the defense will argue the witnesses against Manafort are proven liars with whom the government cut deals and will use that to instill doubt in the minds of the jurors. (RELATED: Alan Dershowitz Expresses ‘Sympathy’ For Peter Strzok But Says He Deserved To Be Fired From The FBI)
“Well, the argument for the defense will be ‘look, the burden of proof is entirely on the prosecution,'” he said. “They gave you two witnesses, both of whom were given deals. Both of whom were admitted criminals, admitted liars. Both of whom — one of whom stole money from him, and that statement the judge made is very powerful.”
“If Manafort knew everything that was going on with Gates, how come he didn’t know that Gates was stealing a couple hundred thousand dollars from him? That’s a very strong argument,” he added. “You’ll hear it from the defense over and over again, because that echoes what the judge said.”
Dershowitz said the decision to keep Manafort off the stand was wise because it eliminates the possibility of the prosecution using any testimony or character history against him.
“I’m not going to ever second-guess a defense lawyer’s decision whether to put his client on the stand,” he said. “When you put the client on the stand, you also open him up to evidence that would otherwise not be admissible against him. Character evidence. Prior crimes evidence.”
Dershowitz said the evidence in the case appears to be “sufficient” but said the jury might not find it credible, or feel they’ve been convinced beyond a reasonable doubt.
“The evidence does seem on its face sufficient. The question is, is it believable? Is it credible?” he said. “That’s an issue that only — only the jury will decide. And they’ll get an instruction on that. They’ll be told you should look cautiously about testimony given by people who have an interest in testifying because it helps them.”
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