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Tag: court

Jury Reconvenes Today After Asking Judge to Clarify Meaning of ‘Reasonable Doubt’

Ex-Trump campaign leader Paul Manafort.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

A jury will reconvene Friday morning after failing to reach a verdict during its full day of  deliberations in the fraud trial of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

Just before the jury said it wanted to go home at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, the panel asked Judge T.S. Ellis to clarify the meaning of “reasonable doubt,” the threshold for acquittal. The judge clarified that the prosecution must prove their case beyond “doubt based on reason,” not “beyond a reasonable doubt.”

The jury also asked three other questions, including the legal requirements to disclose foreign bank accounts and the definition of “shelf” companies.

Ellis provided no insight, except to say the jury should rely on their “collective recollection.”

The jury will reconvene at 9:30 a.m. Friday to determine whether Manafort is guilty of 18 counts of tax and bank fraud, which prosecutors said the Republican consultant committed to indulge in an excessive lifestyle that included more than $6 million on seven homes, $820,000 ons manicure the lawns, a $21,000 black titanium and crystal watch, a $15,000 ostrich jacket and an $18,000 python jacket. 

If convicted, Mueller could spend the rest of his life behind bars.

The jury’s decision in the first trial brought forward by special counsel Robert Mueller carries a lot of weight for special counsel Robert Mueller and President Trump, who has long complained that the investigation is a “witch hunt” designed to force him out of office.

Whatever the case, Manafort faces a second trial in several months on money laundering charges, and prosecutors are expected to have even more evidence in that case.

Jury Begins Deciding Fate of Former Trump Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort

Paul Manafort

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Just two years ago, Paul Manafort was lavishly dressed, owned six luxury homes and was leading the improbable presidential campaign for Donald Trump.

Today, the 69-year-old’s life is reduced to a jail cell, prison garb and anxiety about whether he’ll spend the rest of his life behind bars.

His fate is in the hands of a jury today as they determine whether one of the GOP’s most successful, if shady, operatives is guilty of bank and tax fraud in order to sustain an extravagant, excessive lifestyle.

In closing arguments Wednesday, prosecutors argued they presented plenty of evidence that Manafort concealed millions of dollars in foreign banks accounts to dodge tax penalties from money he made working for a Ukrainian political party and that he lied about his income to receive tens of millions of dollars in loans that he otherwise wasn’t eligible for.

His defense team blamed the people who testified against him and admitted they violated the law. That includes his longtime business partner and former Trump campaign aide Rick Gates, who testified against Manafort as part of a plea deal with prosecutors.

The jury’s decision in the first trial brought forward by special counsel Robert Mueller carries a lot of wieght for special counsel Robert Mueller and President Trump, who has long complained that the investigation is a “witch hunt” designed to force him out of office.

Whatever the case, Manafort faces a second trial in several months on money laundering charges.

Check back for updates.

Jury to Deliberate on Fate of Manafort After Closing Arguments Today in 10-Day Trial

Paul Manafort

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

President Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort’s lawyers rested their case in the two-week fraud trial, presenting no evidence and calling no witnesses Tuesday.

Today, both sides will deliver closing arguments that summarize the 10 days of testimony in the first trial stemming from special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russia.

This jacket was among many pieces of clothing used to show Manafort’s lavish lifestyle.

Then, the fate of the 69-year-old Republican operative will land in the hands of a jury, who will determine whether Manafort is guilty of bank and tax fraud. A conviction could send him to prison for the rest of his life.

During closing arguments, prosecutors will try to convince the jury that Manafort hid millions of dollars he made lobbying for a pro-Russian Ukrainian party in foreign bank accounts to avoid paying taxes. They’ll also point to evidence that he received millions of dollars in loans by hiding his true income after he lost his consulting job.

The prosecution said Manafort was motivated by financing an extravagant lifestyle that included lavish clothes and six homes.

His defense team likely will place blame on people who testified against Manafort and admitted wrongdoing, including his former business partner Rick Gates.

No matter what verdict the jury hands down, Manafort’s troubles are far from over. He faces a second criminal trial in a case that alleges lobbying crimes and money laundering.

Manafort has refused to reach a plea agreement with prosecutors in exchange for more information that could reveal more about Trump and his campaign’s role in working with Russia to undermine the 2016 presidential election.

A lot is at stake for Mueller, who continues to be attacked by Trump as heading a politically connected “witch hunt.” The lack of a conviction during Mueller’s first trial would surely be used by Trump to continue to undermine the special counsel, the FBI and Justice Department.

But a conviction would give the president less ammunition to continue undermining the credibility of the investigation, which began in May 2017 after he fired then-FBI Director James Comey.

Manafort to Kusher: Trump ‘Should’ Hire Banker Who Approved Suspicious $16M Loan

Ex-Trump campaign leader Paul Manafort.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort emailed the president’s son-in-law Jared Kushner weeks after the 2016 election in an attempt to secure a top job for a Chicago banker who is at the center of Manafort’s fraud trial.

Manafort wrote that Stephen Calk, chief executive officer of the Federal Savings Bank, “should be part of the Trump Administration” and that Calk’s “preference” was to be secretary of the Army.

Kushner, who played an integral role during the transition, responded in no time.

“On it!” Kushner responded to the Nov. 30, 2016 email.

Read the email here.

Calk approved $16 million in loans to Manafort, even though the bank was warned earlier that Manafort had falsely overstated his finances. 

Calk was active supporter of campaign since April,” Manafort wrote in the email. “HE served on the National Economic Policy Advisory Committee for Trump campaign and has made over 40 television interviews during the course of the General Election. His background is strong in defense issues, management and finance. His preference is Secretary of the Army.”

Manafort listed “alternative positions” for Calk: Undersecretary of the Treasury for Domestic Finance, Undersecretary of the Treasury for International Affairs and Deputy Secretary of Commerce.

Calk never got the job.

A week after the election, Calk pitched himself for the job in a memo entitled,  “Qualification Memorandum on Behalf of Stephen M. Calk Articulating His Qualifications to Serve as the 22nd Secretary of the Army.”

“Mr. Calk willingly risked his national professional and personal reputation as an active, vocal, early supporter of President-Elect Trump,” Calk wrote in the memo.

Prosecutors rested their case this week against Manafort, who could spend the rest of his life in prison if he’s found guilty of numerous bank and tax fraud charges.

Jury Acquits FBI Agent Accused of Firing Gun During Oregon Standoff

FBI photo of the shooting of Robert “LaVoy” Finicum during the 2016 armed standoff.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

A federal jury has acquitted an FBI agent accused of lying to investigators about whether he fired his gun twice at a militia elder involved in the armed takeover of an Oregon wildlife refuge.

The jury on Friday found Agent Joseph Astarita not guilty of obstruction and making false statements.

The 41-year-old agent repeatedly denied he fired his weapon at Robert “LaVoy” Finicum because he was worried about crossfire.

Astarita’s attorney, David Angeli, told CNN that prosecutors lacked eyewitness and ballistic evidence that would show the agent fired his service weapon in during the 2016 standoff. 

“We are grateful to the men and women of the jury who saw through a case that never should have been brought,” Angeli and another defense attorney Rob Cary said in a statement.

At the time of the alleged shooting, the FBI was told to hold fire while local and state law enforcement handled Finicum, who led police on a chase in his pickup and was then shot by state police after he appeared to reach for his gun.

The jury was focused on who fired two errant shots, not who killed Finicum because the deadly force was deemed justified.

Astarita’s lawyers argued that alleged evidence against the agent was the result of lies from the “reckless” actions of one Oregon State Police trooper who fired most of the shots and later changed his story.

Jury May Decide Fate of Manafort This Week Before He Faces Another Trial

Paul Manafort

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

A verdict in the bank and tax fraud case against Paul Manafort could come as early as this week, and a guilty verdict could has the potential of putting President Trump’s former campaign chairman in prison for the rest of his life.

Robert Mueller’s prosecutors are expected to wrap up their case today, depending on what the defense does, the case could go to the jury by midweek.

A lot is at stake in the first trial since Mueller was appointed in May 2017 to investigate Russia’s meddling in the election. A victory could restore faith in the investigation, while a defeat could give Trump more ammunition to claim the probe is part of a “witch hunt,” a far-fetched claim that nonetheless has gained traction among many Republicans.

Monday marks the 10th day in Alexandria, Va., federal court.

When the trial resumes Monday afternoon, prosecutes are expected to call to the stand James Brennan, an executive at the Federal Savings Bank.

What’s unclear is whether Manafort’s lawyers plan to call their own witnesses.

Whatever the case, not even an acquittal ends the legal troubles of Manafort, a longtime GOP operative accused of concealing millions of dollars he made from Russian-friendly Ukrainian officials by depositing the money into foreign bank accounts to avoid taxes.

A second Manafort trial is scheduled for mid-September in Washington D.C., a case that alleges Manafort laundered money and failed to register as a lobbyist while working for the Ukrainian government.

Judge in Manafort Trial Grants Request by Special Counsel to Not Disclose Conversation about Trump Case

Ex-Trump campaign leader Paul Manafort.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

The special counsel’s team that is prosecuting Paul Manafort on fraud charges successfully urged a judge to keep secret details that could shed light on the ongoing investigation into the Trump campaign and whether it colluded with Russia to meddle in the election.

Rick Gates, the former business partner of Paul Manafort, revealed on the stand Tuesday that he was cooperating with special counsel Robert Mueller’s prosecutors on Trump’s campaign.

Gates and Manafort played integral roles in the campaign.

The judge overseeing the case granted the prosecutors’ request to keep details of the conversations about Trump from becoming public.

“Disclosing the identified transcript portions would reveal substantive evidence pertaining to an ongoing investigation,” the special counsel’s office wrote. “The government’s interest in protecting the confidentiality of its ongoing investigations is compelling and justifies sealing the limited portion of the sidebar conference at issue here. In addition, sealing will minimize any risk of prejudice from the disclosure of new information relating to that ongoing investigation.”

Judge T.S. Ellis III wrote that he granted the request because the conversation would “reveal substantive evidence pertaining to an ongoing government investigation.”

Jury Deliberating in Case of FBI Agent Accused of Firing Weapon During Takeover of Oregon Wildlife Refuge

Robert “LaVoy” Finicum was shot and killed by police during the armed takeover of an Oregon wildlife refuge.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

The fate of FBI Agent Joseph Astarita is now in the hands of a jury.

Astarita is accused of obstruction and making false statements after denying to federal authorities that he fired two shots at a militia elder involved in the armed takeover of an Oregon wildlife refuge. The 41-year-old defendant also is accused of removing the shell casings from the scene to hide evidence that he was the shooter.

During the trial, he repeated his denials, saying he did not fire his weapon at Robert “LaVoy” Finicum because he was worried about crossfire.

The FBI was told to hold fire while local and state law enforcement handled Finicum, who led police on a chase in his pickup and was then shot by state police after he appeared to reach for his gun.

The jury is focused on who fired the two errant shots, not who killed Finicum because the deadly force was deemed justified.

“It is with a heavy heart that the United States government asks you to look at one of its own,” Paul T. Maloney, an assistant United States attorney, said Thursday in his final statement to the jury, the New York Times reports. “This case is about integrity; this case is about honesty; this case is about accountability and owning your shots.”

Astarita’s lawyers argued that alleged evidence against the agent was the result of lies from the “reckless” actions of one Oregon State Police trooper who fired most of the shots and later changed his story

Astarita is 13-year veteran of the FBI and is a firearms instructor.

Check back for updates.

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