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Prosecutors to wrap up Paul Manafort case, may soon go to jury

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U.S. prosecutors on Monday plan to wrap up their tax and bank fraud case against former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort, making it likely the case will go to the jury by midweek if the defense decides not to call any witnesses.

The trial is in its 10th day in Alexandria, Virginia, federal court and is not scheduled to resume until Monday afternoon. The case arose from U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

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Before completing their case, prosecutors will call James Brennan, an executive at the Federal Savings Bank. On Friday, a former salesman at Federal testified that the bank’s chief executive personally approved $16 million in loans to Manafort while seeking Manafort’s help getting a post in President Donald Trump’s cabinet.

The prosecution also wants to recall Paula Liss, an agent with the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network. The defense is seeking to block further questioning of her, and the judge has not yet ruled. Liss testified last week that Manafort did not disclose his foreign bank accounts.

Manafort’s lawyers will then face a choice: call their own witnesses or hope the prosecution’s case is not strong enough to outweigh defense attacks on the credibility of Rick Gates and the testimony of more than two dozen other witnesses.

Gates testified last week that Manafort, his former boss, directed him to help commit the tax and bank frauds, but the defense portrayed him as living a “secret life” of infidelity and embezzlement.

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Prosecutors contend Manafort hid a significant portion of the approximately $60 million he earned as a consultant for pro-Russian politicians in Ukraine, then lied to borrow millions more in a bid to maintain an extravagant lifestyle when the Ukraine work dried up.

Shanlon Wu, who represented Gates before he pleaded guilty in February and started cooperating with Mueller’s probe, said he expected the defense to rest its case and move on to closing arguments.

While the prosecution has built a solid case, Manafort’s lawyers appeared to have raised some doubts about the testimony of Gates and other witnesses, Wu said.

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“The big question is, did the government do enough to show willfulness,” said Wu, who is no longer involved in the case and said he was speaking from knowledge of the publicly available evidence.

If the defense decides not to call any witnesses, the court may on Monday hold a conference with the lawyers to decide what instructions should be given to the jury before they begin deliberations, Judge T.S. Ellis said on Friday.

    Closing arguments may take place on Tuesday. Ellis ordered each side to limit its summation to two hours.

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It was unclear if Ellis will make public the reason behind an unexpected recess on Friday that lasted into the midafternoon and included a lengthy discussion with the lawyers and judge at the bench, the contents of which remain under seal.

Some legal experts have speculated that it may have been triggered by a problem with the jury after Ellis reminded jurors in unusual detail and multiple times about the defendant’s presumed innocence, the need to “keep an open mind” about the trial and not to talk to anyone about the case.

“My sense is that it probably has to do with juror misconduct,” said Joshua Dressler, a law professor at Ohio State. But it was not likely severe enough to prompt the judge to declare a mistrial, he said, noting Ellis resumed witness testimony on Friday afternoon.

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Reporting by Nathan Layne in Alexandria, Virginia and Karen Freifeld in New York; Editing by Cynthia Osterman

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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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2020 Election

Trump campaign mocked after unveiling new red hats: ‘Do you have arm bands as well?’

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President Donald Trump's 2016 "Make America Great Again" hats have been replaced with new "Keep America Great" hats.

Trump re-election campaign manager Brad Parscale modeled one of the hats on Twitter.

Here is some of what people were saying:

https://twitter.com/LazarusLeBaron/status/1165430924093165568

Here I made an arm band design for you pic.twitter.com/inTyqVi2wo

— Christopher Goodwin (@LazarusLeBaron) August 25, 2019

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‘This will not end well’: Far-right extremism expert warns of Trump’s intensifying authoritarianism

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An expert on the far-right in America warned of President Donald Trump's "genuinely dangerous levels" of authoritarianism on Saturday.

Author David Neiwert posted a long Twitter thread on the commander-in-chief's "Social Dominance Orientation" -- and warned it will not end well.

Neiwert is the author of the 2017 book Alt-America: The Rise of the Radical Right in the Age of Trump.

Here is the thread he posted:

https://twitter.com/DavidNeiwert/status/1165428067138846720

https://twitter.com/DavidNeiwert/status/1165428524808724480

https://twitter.com/DavidNeiwert/status/1165429018486702081

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2020 Election

‘The Mooch’ attended Biden fundraiser in the Hamptons — because Trump ‘has lost his mind’

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Former White House press secretary Anthony Scaramucci attended a fundraiser for former Vice President Joe Biden on Saturday.

CBS News reporter Ben Mitchell posted a photo of Scaramucci at the event, and subsequently interviewed "The Mooch."

Scaramucci said he was still a registered Republican, but added that Trump "has lost his mind."

Spotted at a Biden event in the Hamptons: Fmr. Trump WH Comms Director Anthony @Scaramucci pic.twitter.com/PWVTZ8Qm15

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