Legal

Manafort Case Delayed As Prosecution Set to Call Final Witnesses

The judge in the federal tax fraud case against former Trump Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort called for a break in the case, as prosecutors sought to clarify comments made by the judge, according to a new report.

Witnesses were scheduled to appear again starting at about 1:45 p.m., making it unlikely that prosecutors would be able to wrap up the case by today, as had been expected. Manafort is facing trial on 18 counts of mail fraud, tax fraud and failure to disclose that he had about 30 foreign bank accounts.

Judge T.S. Ellis told jurors to keep an open mind and to remember that Manafort was presumed innocent, as it was unclear why the case failed to resume Friday morning. Jurors were given explicit instructions not to talk to one another.

The scheduled testimony was to involve allegations that Manafort offered a job in the Trump administration to the head of a Chicago bank that provided him with $16 million in loans. According to the report, prosecutors were planning to call upon four witnesses on Friday.

Prosecutors in a court filing asked the judge to explain to jurors that conspiracy to commit fraud is a crime whether or not the action is carried out. Earlier in the week, the judge had questioned why prosecutors were focusing on a loan from Citizens Bank that Manafort did not receive. It was not clear whether that issue was the one that caused the delay on Friday, according to the report.

The judge has repeatedly been harder on prosecutors than on the defense counsel, and earlier in the week he issued an apology for berating them, the report stated. Three of the final four prosecution witnesses are said to be current or former employees of the Federal Savings Bank.

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