It is well-known by now that former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort is now facing trial after being indicted for bank and tax fraud. In the middle of June, he was ordered to jail by a federal judge over charges that he tampered with witnesses while out on bail. Currently, Manafort faces up to 80 years in jail and is under house arrest along with business partner Rick Gates.
Today, in a stunning turn of events, Manafort’s trial was abruptly put on hold for several hours, which increased speculation that he may be about turn on his former boss Mr. Trump and strike a deal with prosecutors. According to POLITICO:
‘Rumors swirled through the ninth-floor courtroom in Alexandria, Virginia, about what the delay could mean — from a looming guilty plea from the former Trump campaign manager, to Judge T.S. Ellis III conceding his second mistake in two days, to an issue with the jury — but there were no clear answers.’
The 78 year-old Judge T.S. Ellis explained to the court that he had a docket of 200-300 cases that he needed to “keep moving” and sent the overflow crowd off to an early lunch. Ellis said:
‘I assure you this was all necessary.’
During the delay, Judge Ellis repeatedly met with federal prosecutors and Manafort’s defense attorneys. The judge who had previously placed priority on the trial moving quickly, pushed the start of the witness testimony in the trial until Friday afternoon.
The scene in the courtroom on Friday was very different from what had been witnessed throughout the previous eight days of Manafort’s trial. Before even summoning the jury into the room, Ellis called a bench conference with prosecutors and Manafort’s attorneys.
According to POLITICO:
‘After that brief meeting with the judge broke up, Manafort got up from his seat and huddled with his entire team of lawyers as the entire courtroom quieted down. From the front row, a friend of Manafort’s wife, Kathleen Manafort, remarked aloud that she thought everyone was trying to listen in to the conversation. She also asked the reporters sitting in the row behind them what they thought was happening.’
Ellis also called the lawyers back for a second conference. The whole legal team huddled around the Judge as Manafort sat by himself at the table while a U.S. Marshall kept watch. What was even more odd was that the judge called over the courtroom security officer to participate in the conference, which is highly unusual and could mean that there was an issue with the jury.
‘The bank- and tax-fraud trial of former Donald Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort resumed Friday afternoon without any public explanation for an unusual delay in the proceedings, but quickly produced revealing testimony suggesting that Manafort’s role managing the Trump campaign helped him win millions of dollars in loans at a time he was badly short on cash.’
A bank official testified that a Chicago bank CEO who thought he was being considered for positions in the president’s cabinet helped facilitate $16 million in loans to Manafort during and after the campaign. POLITICO reported:
‘The Federal Savings Bank of Chicago agreed to issue Manafort a $9.5 million loan after an unusual dinner in New York City in May 2016, days before Manafort was elevated to the position of campaign chairman, bank senior vice president Dennis Raico said on the witness stand after receiving a grant of immunity.’
Here are a few comments from Twitter:
Manafort is in a downward spiral and whatever is developing is most likely not good news for the former Trump campaign chairman.
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