Paul Manafort, ex-Trump campaign chief, to begin trial

31 July, 2018, 15:39 | Author: Orlando Hughes
  • TPM Illustration

But what is expected to be missing from the trial, which begins on Tuesday (US time), will be answers about whether the Trump campaign coordinated with the Kremlin during the 2016 presidential election or any mention of Russian Federation at all.

On Tuesday morning, he was set to travel about 100 yards, from the Alexandria Detention Center to the Albert V Bryan courthouse in Virginia, for the first day of his trial on multiple felony charges including tax fraud, bank fraud and conspiracy.

Manafort's lawyers are attempting to block the 51 exhibits detailing this work from court, claiming the evidence is "irrelevant, prejudicial and unnecessarily time-consuming evidence", Bloomberg reports, but Mueller's team say the documents are needed to prove the full scope of Manafort's earnings.

To avoid paying hefty taxes, prosecutors say, they set up secret shell companies and offshore accounts to funnel their Ukrainian proceeds disguised as "loans" to USA accounts to buy multimillion-dollar properties and luxury goods.

At the same time, Mueller's team continues to press the president's legal team for an interview with the commander in chief.

The trial, starting with selection of a 12-member jury, coincides with growing speculation that Trump's former personal lawyer Michael Cohen may cooperate with federal investigators against the president.

Gates has since pleaded guilty and agreed to help prosecutors with their case, as one of the government's star witnesses. Previously, he tried to challenge Mueller's prosecutorial authority, a move that included filing a civil lawsuit against the Justice Department.

Manafort, 69, has pleaded not guilty to 18 counts of bank and tax fraud related to his lobbying activities on behalf of the former Russian-backed government of Ukraine.

Giuliani: 'I want you to hear' Cohen tapes
Still, Nunberg noted that Trump would have known about the Russian Federation lawyer meeting "under normal circumstances". Cohen alleges that he was present, along with several others, when Trump was informed of the Russians' offer by Trump Jr.

The luxurious lifestyle was funded by Manafort's political consulting for the pro-Russian Ukrainian political party of Viktor Yanukovych, who was deposed as Ukraine's president in 2014.

"On top of that", he added, "the government will bring forth the coup de grace" with incriminating testimony by Gates, Manafort's former business partner.

Just as an acquittal would be bad for Mueller, a Manafort conviction would give Mueller's team juice to keep their investigation going. Prosecutors say they may call as many as 35 witnesses, including five who have immunity agreements. Ellis has said Mueller's team is pursuing the case in order to "tighten the screws" on Manafort in the hope that he will testify against others, including Mr. Trump.

Mr Trump has expressed sympathy for Mr Manafort since the charges were laid, calling him a "nice guy".

It was two years after Yanukovych was ousted from Ukraine that Gates and Manafort found themselves again in close proximity to ascendant power, when they joined (and for a three-month period Manafort led) Donald Trump's 2016 campaign.

The judge overseeing that trial, Berman Jackson, revoked Manafort's bail last month and ordered him to await trial from a jail cell.

The Virginia trial is expected to last at least two weeks. Gates falsely claimed in a letter to a bank that a $300,000 delinquency on Manafort's credit card was a loan to him that Gates meant to pay back, the prosecutors alleged.

"The depth of the charges against Paul Manafort is such that at some point, the best decision for him will be to try to cut a deal", said Lisa Griffin, a former federal prosecutor who is now a law professor at Duke University.

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