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Paul Manafort Trial Goes To Jury

Closing arguments concluded Wednesday in the financial crimes trial of Paul Manafort, the former campaign chairman for Donald Trump. Jurors will begin deliberations Thursday morning in Alexandria, Virginia.

If found guilty, Manafort, 69, faces a prison sentence of up to 305 years. Manafort has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Manafort has been accused of shielding millions of dollars in offshore bank accounts from American tax -collectors. During his closing arguments, special counsel prosecutor Greg Andres reminded jurors of the $60 million Manafort is accused of hiding in 31 separate bank accounts.

“He lied to his tax preparers, he lied to his bookkeeper, because he wanted to hide that money and avoid paying taxes,” Andres added.

Andres also sought to downplay former Manafort business partner Rick Gates’ role in the trial.  Gates pleaded guilty in February to charges of conspiracy against the United States and lying to federal authorities. Having initially been charged alongside Manafort, Gates has since cooperated with the special counsel as part of their investigation into Russian meddling during the 2016 campaign.

“The government is not asking you to take everything Mr. Gates said at face value…we are not asking you to like him,” Andres said, adding, “The star witness, in this case, is the documents.”

Speaking for Manafort’s defense team, lead attorney Kevin Downing returned to the matter of Rick Gates, casting blame on the prosecution’s star witness.

“The government was so desperate to make a case against Mr. Manafort, it made a deal with Mr. Gates,” Downing said, accusing Gates of “fabricating” his testimony to make a deal with Manafort.

After the judge instructed jurors Wednesday afternoon, the 12-person panel will deliberate and return their verdict.

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