Paul Manafort Trial Begins – Here's What the Embattled Ex-Trump Aide Will Face in Court
01 August, 2018, 21:07
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.
In their opening statement on Tuesday, prosecutors said Manafort earned some $60 million in Ukraine and unlawfully failed to report a large portion of it to US tax authorities.
Former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort is shown in a court room sketch, as he sits in federal court on the opening day of his trial on bank and tax fraud charges stemming from Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, in Alexandria, Virginia, U.S. July 31, 2018.
Gates, a longtime business associate of Manafort and a onetime senior Trump campaign aide, pleaded guilty in February to two felony counts: conspiracy against the US and lying to federal authorities.
His defense team's opening day strategy was to try and undermine the Mueller team's star witness, Rick Gates, who was Manafort's deputy in business and at the Trump campaign.
Manafort, the lone American charged by Mueller who has opted to stand trial instead of cooperate with prosecutors, was described by his defense lawyer as a hugely successful global political consultant who left the details of his finances to others.
Nor will they hear about the reason he's been jailed since last month after a judge revoked his house arrest over allegations that he and a longtime associate attempted to tamper with witnesses in the case.
Despite a focus on financial crimes, the trial could yield politically damaging headlines about a man who ran Mr Trump's campaign for three months and attended a June 2016 meeting with Russians offering damaging information on Mr Trump's Democratic rival Hillary Clinton that is now a focal point of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's 14-month-old investigation.
On Tuesday morning, Judge Ellis rejected Mr. Manafort's request to bar prosecutors' use of about 50 documents from Mr. Manafort's years of consulting work in Ukraine. Gates also worked as an aide on Trump's campaign.
"Looking back on history, who was treated worse, Alfonse Capone, legendary mob boss, killer and "Public Enemy Number One", or Paul Manafort, political operative & Reagan/Dole darling", Trump wrote in a tweet.
"It's about Mr. Manafort placing his trust in the wrong person", Zehnle said.
But Asonye told jurors the evidence would show Manafort hid "tens of millions of overseas income" to avoid paying taxes.
In their opening remarks, prosecutors said Manafort opened more than 30 bank accounts outside the United States to attempt to hide the $60 million he earned in lobbying in Ukraine.
Rudy Giuliani, a lawyer for Trump, said no one facing trial should expect a pardon, but he did not rule one out. The 12-person jury comprises six men and six women.
"I don't anticipate that a government witness will utter the word 'Russia,"' Andres said.
Manafort has used similar arguments to challenge his indictments in Virginia and Washington. The second trial, scheduled for September in the District of Columbia, involves allegations that he acted as an unregistered foreign agent for Ukrainian interests.
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