Prosecutor’s wrapping up case at Manafort fraud trial

By The Associated Press

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — A bank executive testified that he was pressured for political reasons to give more than $16 million in loans to Paul Manafort, as the financial fraud trial of the former Trump campaign chairman resumed Friday afternoon after unexpected delays.

The delays left uncertain whether prosecutors could wrap up their case against Manafort before the weekend, as had been expected.

U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III called a recess without explanation after huddling with attorneys from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office and Manafort’s lawyers for more than 20 minutes. Later after bringing court back into session, he strongly reminded jurors that they weren’t to discuss the tax evasion and bank fraud case with anyone.

It was a hiccup as prosecutors headed toward resting their case against Manafort, proceedings that have been sometimes dramatic and featured tense exchanges with Mueller’s prosecutors. Earlier Friday, the prosecutors asked Ellis to correct an earlier statement in which the judge suggested they were wasting the court’s time.

Ellis did not mention that request to the jury and didn’t offer an explanation for the hours-long delay as the trial resumed with the bank executive’s testimony.

Dennis Raico, an executive at Federal Saving Bank who testified under an immunity agreement, detailed for jurors how he grew uncomfortable by the actions of bank chairman Stephen Calk in the handling of Manafort’s loans. Prosecutors have said that despite red flags, Calk pushed through the loans for Manafort because he wanted a job in the Trump administration.

During his testimony, Raico told jurors that Calk discussed roles in the Trump campaign ahead of approving the loans and later specifically referenced being a candidate for Secretary of the Treasury or Housing and Urban Development in messages he wanted Raico to pass to Manafort. Raico said he didn’t relay Calk’s messages because he thought they were inappropriate.