Published: Tue, July 31, 2018
Worldwide | By Victor Meyer

Trial of Ex-Trump Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort Set To Begin

Trial of Ex-Trump Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort Set To Begin

What's likely to be missing: answers about whether the Trump campaign coordinated with the Kremlin during the 2016 presidential election, or really any mention of Russian Federation at all.

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 US accounts to buy multimillion-dollar properties and luxury goods.

What's likely to be missing: answers about whether the Trump campaign co-ordinated with the Kremlin during the 2016 presidential election, or really any mention of Russian Federation at all.

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

Judge T.S. Ellis will preside in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia.

Trump has repeatedly denounced the special counsel's investigation as a politically motivated "witch hunt" and denied there was any collusion with Moscow to defeat Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. He is charged with multiple crimes for allegedly failing to report his Ukrainian income, tax evasion and bank fraud. The charges stem from Manafort's activities from 2006-2017.

Manafort was in charge of Trump's campaign when the NY real estate developer accepted the party's presidential nomination at the Republican National Convention in 2016.

"As a close business associate of Manafort, Gates can serve as a sort of narrator to help the jury understand the significance of these documents", Barbara McQuade, a former USA attorney said in an email to TPM, pointing to the number of email exchanges including Gates that are referenced in Mueller's exhibit list.

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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.

Manafort's attorneys last week fingered over 50 exhibits included on a proposed government list as prejudicial and irrelevant and asked the judge to disallow them from his trial, set to begin with jury selection on Tuesday.

Manafort has been in jail since last month when a judge revoked his house arrest over allegations that he and an associate tried to tamper with witnesses in the case.

Manafort has pleaded not guilty to the charges in Virginia, as well as to a separate indictment in federal court in Washington, D.C.

Prosecutors accuse Manafort, 69, of working as an unregistered lobbyist for pro-Russian politicians in Ukraine, laundering more than $30 million in income and deceiving banks to secure millions of dollars more in loans.

Given the strength of the evidence, however, some legal experts have suggested Mr Manafort may be banking on an eventual pardon from Mr Trump, who has called his former campaign chairman a "nice guy" who has been treated unfairly.

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.

Gates, who cut a plea deal with Mueller earlier this year, is expected to testify against his former mentor. 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.

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