The Manafort trial: Opening statements begin

01 August, 2018, 00:32 | Author: Kim Reid
  • Paul Manafort trial offers glimpse into what Robert Mueller actually has in his investigation

The case against Manafort, brought by Special Counsel Robert Mueller in the Eastern District of Virginia, is focused exclusively on allegations that the former Trump adviser had committed a range of financial crimes, from tax evasion to bank fraud, that have no direct tie to his campaign work.

"My guess is you will see O.J. -type frenzy at this court event", said Michael Caputo, a former Trump aide and longtime Manafort associate, referring to the 1995 O.J. Simpson murder trial. Last month, Mueller's team disclosed in a court filing what it said was a $10 million loan to Manafort from Oleg Deripaska, a magnate with close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

In particular, prosecutors say they will introduce evidence that a chairman of one of the banks allowed Manafort to file inaccurate loan information in exchange for a role on the Republican campaign and the promise of a job in the Trump administration that never materialized.

Prosecutors have said they will not present evidence of collusion at this trial.

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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. One of the judges, T.S. Ellis, said prosecutors rightfully "followed the money paid by pro-Russian officials" to Manafort.

Defense attorney Shanlon Wu, who is also not participating in the case, seconded the legal strategy, saying it would lessen the chance of a mistrial should Manafort's attorneys want to contest guilty verdicts over accusations jurors let their distaste for Trump influence their decisions.

Manafort is accused of taking the money he made working for a Russia-backed Ukrainian political party and hiding it in foreign bank accounts to avoid paying taxes, then turning to bank fraud when the party collapsed. Having his former campaign chairman, who helped run Trump's campaign at a critical point of the election, in the news so consistently shines a negative light on him.

The trial is expected to drag on for at least three weeks, with jury selection for the case beginning on Tuesday.

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A jury has been seated in the federal trial for Manafort, who served briefly as Trump's campaign manager in 2016. Manafort has pleaded not guilty to those charges, as well.

But once Mueller's Russian Federation investigation ends, Giuliani told Reuters: "He has a right to consider it".

Manafort, 69, is the first American charged in the inquiry by the special counsel, Robert Mueller, to maintain his innocence, and to force the prosecutors to prove their case at trial. At one point, his defence lawyers sued Mueller and the Justice Department, saying they had overstepped their bounds by bringing a prosecution untethered to the core questions of Mueller's investigation - whether Russian Federation worked with the Trump campaign to tip the election.

Expected to be a main witness, Gates was Manafort's right-hand man for years and has knowledge of their offshore accounts and work for Deripaska and in Ukraine.

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A Manafort conviction would give momentum to Mueller, who has indicted or secured guilty pleas from 32 people and three companies since the probe started 14 months ago. He has pleaded not guilty.

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