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Former Trump campaign chief Paul Manafort 'lied' and 'lied' for money, Mueller prosecutor argues

Dan Mangan
Key legal moves are scheduled in cases involving at least three central figures in the investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, potential collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign and possible obstruction of justice by President Trump.

Former Trump campaign boss Paul Manafort "lied" and "lied" and "lied" again to avoid paying taxes on money he earned overseas and to get even more money when that income stream ran dry, a prosecutor told jurors as closing arguments began Wednesday in Manafort's federal trial.

"Mr. Manafort lied to keep more money when he had it and lied to get more money when he didn't," Greg Andres, a member of special counsel Robert Mueller 's prosecution team, said in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Virginia, according to NBC News.

In fact, the prosecutor said, the case is all about "Mr. Manafort and his lies."

"When you follow the trail of Mr. Manafort's money, it's littered with lies," Andres said in his pitch to jurors. "Mr. Manafort is not above the law."

Manafort's defense lawyers are expected to make their own closing arguments later Wednesday.

Both prosecutors and defense lawyers have been given two hours for the final statements. Jurors could begin deliberating Manafort's fate soon afterward the same day.

A longtime Republican consultant and lobbyist, Manafort, 69, is accused of hiding from the IRS tens of millions of dollars he earned working for a pro-Russia political party in Ukraine.

"In total, Mr. Manafort failed to pay taxes on more than $15 million," Andres said.

Prosecutors say that when that work ended, after the party lost power, Manafort sought to continue paying for his pricey lifestyle by lying to American banks to obtain loans.

Manafort has pleaded not guilty in the case, which is the first of two against him brought by Mueller to go to trial. He is set to be tried on related charges in Washington, D.C., federal court this fall.

Defense lawyers rested their case Tuesday without calling any witnesses to testify on Manafort's behalf and after introducing just 12 exhibits into evidence.

In contrast, prosecutors called 27 witnesses to testify, among them Manafort's former business deputy and fellow senior official on the Trump campaign, Rick Gates , who earlier pleaded guilty to conspiracy and making false statements.

Prosecutors also submitted more than 360 exhibits in the case.

Mueller lodged charges against Manafort and Gates after being appointed to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and possible collusion by members of the Trump campaign in that meddling.

However, the charges against both men do not relate to their actions on that campaign, which sent President Donald Trump to the White House.

Trump has repeatedly called for an end to Mueller's ongoing probe, calling it a "Witch Hunt."

— The Associated Press contributed to this report.