Tuesday, 25 September, 2018

Former Trump campaign chairman pleads not guilty to charges

Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort
Glenn Montgomery | 09 March, 2018, 09:32

Manafort, President Trump's former campaign manager, pleaded not guilty to tax and fraud charges in federal court in Virginia on Thursday.

Manafort pleaded not guilty in a Virginia courtroom to additional charges ranging from bank fraud to filing false tax returns that were brought by Robert Mueller, the US special counsel for the Russian Federation probe.

The mysterious protester held up a sign that read "Blood money" as Rick Gates, a former top adviser to President Donald Trump's, entered federal court, where he pleaded guilty to federal conspiracy and false statements charges.

A grand jury there indicted Manafort on charges that he hid from the Internal Revenue Service tens of millions of dollars he earned advising pro-Russia politicians in Ukraine. But Gates has pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate with Mueller, who is probing Russian interference in the election and possible ties to the Trump campaign.

In one instance, Manafort allegedly dealt with an unpaid $300,000 American Express bill by telling a bank that Gates had borrowed his credit card and run up the charges, the indictment says. Last week Manafort pleaded not guilty to conspiracy and money laundering charges and a federal judge in Washington, D.C., set a trial for September 17.

That agreement requires him to offer information on any matters that special counsel Robert Mueller deems relevant. It is expected to last eight to 10 days.

Two weeks ago, the men's Russian-connected attorney Alex Van der Zwaan was charged with misleading the Federal Bureau of Investigation about work he did for Manafort and Gates.

In Washington, he faces counts of conspiracy to launder more than $30 million (U.S.), making false statements, failing to follow lobbying disclosure laws and working as an unregistered foreign agent.

In Virginia, he is accused of hiding foreign bank accounts, falsifying his income taxes and failing to report foreign bank accounts.

Also waiting was Bill Christeson of Kensington, Md., who said he has followed Manafort to several court appearances and has been hoping to see the longtime lobbyist prosecuted for decades.

Jackson said she wouldn't punish Manafort for his February 23 statement.

U.S. Senior Judge T.S. Ellis III picked the July date, though he did not foreclose the possibility of granting an extension to the defense if warranted.

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