Manafort Lawyers Rest Without Calling Witnesses in Fraud Trial

Prosecutors for the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, rested their case Monday after calling roughly two dozen witnesses and introducing hundreds of exhibits. Mr. Manafort, 69, is accused of evading taxes on roughly $16.5 million in income that he earned working for pro-Russia political forces in Ukraine. When that income ran out, prosecutors claim, he fraudulently obtained more than $20 million in bank loans so he could maintain an extravagant lifestyle.

Defense lawyers made a special effort, including submitting a last-minute brief, to persuade the judge to throw out four bank fraud charges involving $16 million in loans that Mr. Manafort obtained from a small Chicago bank in late 2016 and early 2017. Richard Westling, one of Mr. Manafort’s lawyers, argued that the bank, Federal Savings Bank, was not defrauded because its chairman, Stephen M. Calk, was determined to do business with Mr. Manafort, despite questions about Mr. Manafort’s wherewithal. He also argued that bank officials were well aware of Mr. Manafort’s true financial situation.

Emails cited by the prosecution showed that Mr. Manafort was trading heavily on his connection to the Trump campaign in seeking those loans, one of which he used to prevent another creditor from foreclosing on one of his homes. In August 2016, before he was forced out of his position as campaign chairman, Mr. Manafort arranged to add Mr. Calk to Mr. Trump’s economic advisory committee. In November, just days after the election, Mr. Calk sent Mr. Manafort a long list of top administration jobs for which he wanted to be considered.

Mr. Manafort then emailed Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law, recommending Mr. Calk as someone who would “be totally reliable” and would “advance D.T. agenda,” referring to the president-elect. Mr. Calk’s “preference is secretary of the Army,” he wrote. In the next two months, Mr. Calk overruled his underlings and granted Mr. Manafort more money than any other of the bank’s borrowers had obtained, bank officials testified.

Mr. Westling argued that the bank was not victimized because it would have approved Mr. Manafort’s loans “regardless of the information” he had submitted. But the judge ruled that was a question for the jury to decide, not him.