Trump Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort talks to reporters on the floor of the Republican National Convention at Quicken Loans Arena, Sunday, July 17, 2016, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)


Just a short while ago, the defense for Paul Manafort announced that it was resting without calling single witness or presenting a single exhibit.

Manafort is on trial on multiple charges of fraud and felony tax evasion stemming from his under reporting income to the IRS by classifying consulting fees as loans and by lying to banks to get other loans to buy ostrich skin coats and whatever (I can’t begin to describe my disappointment when I found that the ostrich skin coats did not have feathers).

This was probably their best move. Putting Manafort on the stand was unlikely to produce any useful testimony but a lot of perjury. he government’s star witness, Rick Gates, had pleaded guilty to lying to investigators while he was trying to cut a plea bargain. On the stand he came across as a dishonest, unscrupulous douchebag…pretty much like Manafort…his dishonesty was even highlighted by the trial judge. If you’re going for reasonable doubt, showing confidence by resting could be their best play.

Right now you’d have to bet that Manafort gets convicted because that’s what federal juries do. But you wouldn’t be shocked if there were not-guilty verdicts too. The star prosecution witness essentially set himself on fire in the witness stand. The prosecution was publicly flogged by the judge which made them seem a lot like Gates (Fact Check: they are). The fact that executives at the bank knew Manafort’s loan application was pretty much fantasy and gave him the loan anyway is going to have an impact.

I see this as a lose-lose for the prosecution. If they win a tax evasion case, they are expected to. If they lose it, the entire Mueller investigation takes on more of a clown car appearance than it already has. Of course, the one with the most to lose is Manafort. He’s 69 and if convicted will get what is tantamount to a life sentence. Then the big question becomes does Trump pardon him?