BY: TANNER KENNEY
On Monday, August 13th, 2018, after just two weeks of testimony in Judge T.S. Ellis III’s courtroom, prosecutors representing Special Counsel Robert Mueller III in the investigation of interference in the 2016 elections rested their bank and tax fraud case against former Donald Trump Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort.
Although any outcome is technically possible, observers have frequently cited the fact that Manafort’s trial has been a ‘paper case’ since day one, relying on witnesses solely to corroborate the allegations of criminal directions given by Manafort and provide background to the documents produced by the prosecution.
This tactic limited the defense’s ability to attack the credibility of the circumstantial evidence presented to the court such as Manafort’s lavish lifestyle and his communications with former aide and Mueller’s star witness, Rick Gates. Previously, and throughout the trial, Manafort’s legal team has attempted to paint Gates as unreliable and unworthy of credit due to his admission of criminal activity throughout his tenure with Manafort’s firm.
If he is found guilty on all charges, Manafort faces over 300 years in prison at sentencing. However, even if he were to be acquitted on all charges in the case presided over by Judge Ellis, Manafort will have a similar if not even more difficult time defending himself in court against the allegations of illegal international lobbying in front of Judge Amy Berman Jackson, among other charges.
In an entirely separate case, a Trump-appointed judge has upheld the Special Counsel’s legal standing to adjudicate alleged crimes, marking the fourth time a court of law has upheld the Mueller team’s authority to see-through its mandate of investigating international meddling in American elections. All of this begs the question – who’s next for the Special Counsel?
Numerous legal analysts and journalists have pointed to former Trump aide Roger Stone as a potential target of the Mueller Investigation. Kristin Davis – the “Manhattan Madam” and notable Stone ally – has already agreed to testify to a grand jury convened in Maryland whilst a former Stone aide, Andrew Miller, will not comply with a subpoena he was served with by the Special Counsel to testify before the empaneled jurors.
Lastly, Randy Credico, a New York City-based radio personality and strong Stone supporter, has also been subpoenaed for his testimony regarding his knowledge of interactions between Stone and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. But this is to say nothing of Manafort’s ongoing legal saga as the testimony offered and evidence presented in the case have ensnared as yet uncharged individuals in numerous, potentially criminal activities.
Tanner Kenney is an energy and media professional with a background in journalism and received his M.S. in Global Affairs, Environment & Energy Policy from NYU’s Center for Global Affairs. Recently, Tanner has focused on the advocacy of sustainable development through renewable energy technologies, transportation efficiency, and inclusive public policy.
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