After three days of dramatic testimony in the trial of Paul Manafort,, prosecutors returned on Thursday to the nuts and bolts of their case against Donald Trump‘s former campaign chairman as they sought to show he obtained millions of dollars in bank loans under false pretenses.
Attorneys for special counsel Robert Mueller also got a rare — and narrow — acknowledgement from Judge TS Ellis III that he likely erred when he angrily confronted them a day earlier over whether he had allowed a witness to watch the trial.
The judge’s comments and detailed testimony about Mr Manafort’s loans opened the eighth day of his trial as prosecutors began presenting the bulk of their bank fraud case against him after spending days largely on tax-evasion allegations. Mr Manafort denies all the charges against him.
On Thursday, a bank employee told jurors how she discovered discrepancies in the information he put on his loan application, including holes in his claims about a New York City property. Melinda James, a Citizens Bank mortgage loan assistant, testified that Manafort had told the bank that the property would be used as a second residence, but she found it listed as a rental on a real estate website.
In another instance, Ms James said Mr Manafort maintained that there were no mortgages on a separate New York property when there actually were. All the while, Mr Manafort signed paperwork indicating he understood that he could face criminal or civil penalties if he lied to the bank.
Airbnb executive Darin Evenson also told jurors that one of Mr Manafort’s New York City properties was offered as a rental through much of 2015 and 2016 — a direct contradiction of the documents the longtime political consultant submitted to obtain a $3.4 million loan. Another bank employee said the distinction matters because the bank caps loans for rentals at $1 million.
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Meanwhile, attorneys for Special Counsel Robert Mueller say in a court filing that “substantive evidence” of the investigation was discussed out of earshot of the jury or the public during the testimony of longtime Mr Manafort deputy Rick Gates earlier in the week.
Prosecutors say the conference involved Mr Manafort’s attorneys attempting to pursue a line of questioning with Mr Gates. The filing does not identify the line of questioning, but one bench conference during Mr Gates’ testimony was prompted by Mr Manafort lawyers asking whether he had spoken to Mr Mueller about his work on the Trump campaign.
Mr Mueller is investigating Russian election interference and any possible coordination with Trump associates – although the charges against Mr Manafort do not relate to collusion.
Mr Manafort’s trial continues.
Related Video: Meet Rick Gates, Who Could Sent Manafort to Jail
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