ALEXANDRIA, Va. - Prosecutors were poised Friday to wrap up their case against former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, but the sometimes dramatic proceedings hit some unexpected delays after court opened.
Judge T.S. Ellis III called a recess without explanation after huddling with attorneys from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office and Manafort’s lawyers for more than 20 minutes. Later after bringing court back into session, he strongly reminded jurors that they weren’t to discuss the tax evasion and bank fraud case with anyone.
It was a hiccup as prosecutors headed toward resting their case against Manafort, proceedings that have been sometimes dramatic and featured tense exchanges with Mueller’s prosecutors. Earlier Friday, the prosecutors asked Ellis III to correct an earlier statement in which the judge suggested they were wasting the court’s time.
On Thursday, prosecutors questioned a loan officer for Citizen’s Bank of New York, asking about Manafort’s 2016 loan application that the bank rejected. Ellis III interjected: “You might want to spend time on a loan that was granted.” Prosecutors said Ellis’ crack “misrepresents the law” regarding bank conspiracy and “is likely to confuse the jury.” Ellis did not immediately comment on the motion.
The developments came after weeks of testimony that was sometimes tedious and based on bank and other records. Some spectators who had waited in line to attend the proceedings were seen falling asleep during a meticulous accounting of transactions, emails and ledgers that form the foundation of the case against Manafort. President Donald Trump’s campaign manager was a longtime political operator in Washington and elsewhere, right up to 2016 when the real estate magnate him as his campaign chairman.
The prosecution is Mueller’s first of the investigation into Russian meddling in the presidential election, but neither Manafort nor his former protege Rick Gates has been charged in connection with their Trump campaign work.