Sunday, 22 September, 2019


Trial set to begin for ex-Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort

Paul Manafort has been charged with money laundering and bank fraud among other violations.					Alexandria Sheriff's Office via Getty Images Paul Manafort has been charged with money laundering and bank fraud among other violations. Alexandria Sheriff's Office via Getty Images
Bennie Garza | 01 August, 2018, 19:56

President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman faces trial in an Alexandria, Virginia federal court Tuesday on bank and tax fraud charges brought by the office of special counsel Robert Mueller. So far, 32 people and three companies have been charged by Mr Mueller.

Prosecutors are seeking to provide details of Manafort's work for a pro-Russian political party in Ukraine, raising the possibility that new information about his Russian connections could emerge. "There is nothing prejudicial about documents setting forth how the ads were made, how consultants were paid and who approved their work".

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.

Gates, who cut a plea deal with Mueller earlier this year, is also expected to play a key role in Manafort's second trial, scheduled for September.

And when that income stream slowed, prosecutors allege that Manafort lied to banks to get access to millions of dollars more in loans.

Zehnle made it clear that attacking the credibility of Gates, who pleaded guilty in February and agreed to cooperate with Mueller's investigation, would be a central plank of the defence.

Accused Russian spy Mariia Butina didn't exactly hide her purported ties to the Kremlin over the past two years, when she was a graduate student at American University, and she openly bragged about connecting President Trump's campaign with Russia's government.

The appellate judges said Manafort was rightfully jailed because he had decided "to push the envelope by contributing to an op-ed in a foreign newspaper" while under a gag order, and also had "repeated communications with potential witnesses" for his upcoming trial.

Legal experts said Manafort may be hoping to be found not guilty - or holding out hopes of a presidential pardon. Manafort is accused of concealing tens of millions of dollars in income from the IRS and fraudulently obtaining millions more in bank loans.

"As explained at the hearing, the government expects to prove that Manafort earned more than $60 million dollars from Ukraine during the period at issue and failed to report, a significant percentage of it on his tax returns", prosecutors wrote. Manafort, 69, has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

"A man in this courtroom believed the law did not apply to him - not tax law, not banking law", Mr Asonye said of Mr Manafort as he sketched out the evidence gathered by special counsel Robert Mueller's team.

Setting a fast pace for a complicated trial, Judge T.S. Ellis III of the U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Virginia, repeatedly urged lawyers for both sides to speed up their decision-making so the jury could be seated.

He said that Manafort had especially relied on Rick Gates, his business associate and now the prosecution's star witness, but that that trust was misplaced. A jury of six men and six women was ultimately selected, along with four alternate jurors.

Mueller has indicted a total of 32 people so far in connection with his probe into whether any members of Trump's election campaign colluded with Russian Federation to help get the NY real estate tycoon into the White House.

Manafort is also due to face other charges in a separate trial in Washington.

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