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Paul Manafort trial focus shifts to bank fraud as prosecutors near end of case

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The trial of Paul Manafort, U.S. President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman, is expected to shift focus on Thursday from his alleged tax evasion to bank fraud as the prosecution’s case heads into its final two days.

Prosecutors are expected to call a series of bankers to the stand to question them about Manafort’s alleged efforts to mislead them with doctored financial statements in a scramble in 2015 and 2016 to borrow against real estate.

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Of the 18 felony charges Manafort faces, nine relate to bank fraud and involve mortgages from Citizens Bank, Banc of California, Genesis Capital, and the Federal Savings Bank, a small Chicago lender whose chief executive was named to an economic advisory panel to the Trump campaign.

Greg Andres, a prosecutor working for U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller, told the court on Wednesday that the prosecution would call eight more witnesses, question each for roughly an hour, and was on track to wrap up its case by week’s end.

Manafort’s lawyers have not yet indicated whether they plan to call witnesses as part of his defense. Their legal strategy so far has hinged on attacking the credibility of the prosecution’s star witness, former Manafort business partner Rick Gates.

The trial in federal court, which finished its seventh day on Wednesday, is the first stemming from Mueller’s probe into Russian involvement in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

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Manafort has pleaded not guilty to 18 counts of bank fraud, tax fraud and failing to disclose foreign bank accounts. According to trial testimony, he used the accounts to receive millions of dollars in payments for his work for pro-Russian politicians in Ukraine.

Prosecutors allege that the Federal Savings Bank lent Manafort money based on fraudulent documents. As part of a quid pro quo, they allege bank Chief Executive Steve Calk was named an adviser to Trump’s 2016 campaign and that Manafort pushed for him to get a senior post once Trump was elected.

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During questioning by prosecutors on Tuesday, Gates said that Manafort had emailed him in late 2016 asking for the incoming Trump administration to consider tapping Calk for Secretary of the Army.

Calk and Federal have not replied to requests for comment.

Manafort’s defense attorneys have attempted to pin responsibility on Gates for the wrongdoing Manafort is charged with.

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Gates, in turn, has said he engaged in financial maneuverings involving their business activities at Manafort’s direction.

Gates ended three days of testimony on Wednesday, after admitting he lied, stole money and cheated on his wife.

Manafort lawyer Kevin Downing got in a final shot, raising the possibility Gates had not one, but four extramarital affairs. Prosecutors objected and Gates never answered the question.

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Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch, Nathan Layne and Karen Freifeld; Writing by Warren Strobel; Editing by Lisa Shumaker

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… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

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Missouri official choose Dr. Seuss’ ‘Oh the Places You’ll Go’ for swearing-in ceremony instead of ‘The Bible’

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A Missouri county official is being both celebrated and attacked after a decision to forgo The Bible for her swearing-in ceremony and opted for a copy of Oh, The Places You'll Go by Dr. Seuss.

The Friendly Atheist at Patheos captured the story, posting a photo of St. Louis City Councilmember Kelli Dunaway's children holding a copy of the book while she took her oath of office.

This was the scene last week at the STLCO government center. Democrats took back control of the council and @DunawayKelli was sworn in on a copy of “Oh the Places you’ll go” with her children❤️ so proud to be part of #TeamKelli pic.twitter.com/iJ1dxfZ1Zg

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In a permission tweet, President Donald Trump announced that his presidency is the only thing keeping the New York Times in business. Yet, somehow, they're also attacking him and lying about him.

"The New York Times will be out of business soon after I leave office, hopefully in 6 years. They have Zero credibility and are losing a fortune, even now, especially after their massive unfunded liability. I'm fairly certain they'll endorse me just to keep it all going!" he tweeted.

https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/1163238629730373632

Since taking office, subscriptions for The Times have increased dramatically. According to an August report, The Times boasted a 4.7 million increase in subscribers for the second quarter. Their revenue growth was 5.2 percent. It certainly is a modest increase, but it's also an increase in an era when newspapers are struggling to survive.

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Farmers' markets are another soft target Americans must fear when going out and about. The New York Times investigated a Bloomington, Indiana stand where people can't get their gluten-free bread in peace. Justin Williams revealed a friend has been thinking about bringing his shotgun to the market for protection. One husband and wife team was accused of being white nationalists, after years of selling tomatoes and kale at the market.

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