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Paul Manafort's Defense Rests Without Calling Witnesses. Guess Nobody Answered Their Craigslist Ad.

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HALLELUJAH! The Prosecution rests! And the defense rests, without calling any witnesses! We may actually get to the end of Paul Manafort's Virginia trial before the DC hearings start in September. (We're in hell, right? This is definitely hell.)

Let's review the last 24 hours of the trial before closing arguments start, shall we?


Monday, prosecutors called Federal Savings Bank vice president James Brennan to testify that, although he could smell the bullshit coming off Manafort's 2016 loan applications from the parking lot, he shoved them through anyway at the behest of his boss Stephen Calk, the bank's CEO.

The loan closed because Mr. Calk wanted it to close.

More on Calk -- who is DEEP SHIT -- in a moment. But before that, let's look at the defense argument, which is NUH UH, THERE'S NO FRAUD IF THE BANK CEO IS IN ON IT! NBC reports:

Judge T.S. Ellis, in a sidebar conference that the jury could not hear, expressed some concern with the notion that the bank could be defrauded, given that Calk approved the loan for personal reasons. That doesn't matter, the prosecutors say. What's important is that Manafort intended to defraud the bank by making false statements in his loan applications.

We're going to assume that any adult capable of handling cutlery can work out that lying on loan application is still a crime, even if you have a guy on the inside working with you. But this is what we imagine we're going to see as the defense makes its closing arguments -- hypertechnical hair-splitting, obfuscation, and distraction. Which is their job, but is also bullshit.

For instance, defense argued yesterday that Manafort's dozens of overseas accounts were actually owned by his business, Davis Manafort Partners. You have to tell the IRS about foreign accounts if your ownership stake in the controlling business is greater than 50 percent. Conveniently, Paul Manafort and his wife Kathleen each own a 50 percent stake in DMP, so the defense argues that neither had an obligation to report them. Neat, huh?

Yeah, it's gonna be a shitshow. And speaking of shit ... HI, STEPHEN CALK!

Prosecutors entered a whole trove of Manafort emails as trial exhibits yesterday, and they do not look good for the White House. Talking Points Memo has links to all of them -- thanks TPM!

Here's Manafort getting Calk a position on Trump's Economic Advisory Committee in August, just as Calk's bank began evaluating Manafort's creditworthiness.

Here's an email chain from October, where Manafort cops to having had a "blackout" and botching the numbers on his loan application, but, "I look to your cleverness on how to manage the underwriting." Luckily, his good buddy Steve Calk will make it happen anyway!

Here's Calk putting in an order for a plum job in Trumpland after November's election, including a list of "Perspective Rolls in the Trump administration in rank order." SERIOUSLY. SIC. SIC TRANSIT GLORIA MUNDI.

And the next day, November 16, Manafort closed on a $9.5 million loan from Calk's bank. Heckuva coincidence!

And here's Manafort passing along the marching orders to Jared Kushner, who says, "If it's what you say I love it especially later in the summer." Well, more or less.

Drain the fucking swamp indeed. Sadly, Steve Calk never did get to be Secretary of the Army. In fact, he never got any of the "Perspective Rolls" for which he deemed himself eminently qualified. But it looks like Mueller's got all the goods on him. So ... good luck with that, dude.

LOCK HIM THEM UP.

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[WaPo / NBC / TPM]

Liz Dye

Liz Dye lives in Baltimore with her wonderful husband and a houseful of teenagers. When she isn't being mad about a thing on the internet, she's hiding in plain sight in the carpool line. She's the one wearing yoga pants glaring at her phone.

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