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

Aug 01, 2018, 01:29
Trial set to begin for ex-Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort

The high-profile trial is the first to arise out of Mueller's investigation into the Trump campaign's alleged collusion with Russian Federation.

Earlier in the day, prosecutors and defence attorneys selected a 12-member jury to weigh Manafort's fate.

At the centre of much of the trial will be another Trump campaign aide, Rick Gates, who spent years working for Manafort in Ukraine and is also accused of helping him falsify paperwork used to obtain the bank loans.

"A man in this courtroom believed the law did not apply to him".

Jury selection begins Tuesday in a federal court in Alexandria, Virginia.

President Trump's former campaign manager Paul Manafort departs U.S. District Court after a motions hearing in Alexandria, Virginia, U.S., May 4, 2018.

Manafort arrived at the courthouse Tuesday morning wearing a black suit, with his hair neatly parted.

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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.

Manafort's lawyer Thomas Zehnle said his client "plac [ed] his trust in the wrong person", that person being Gates.

Most tax and bank fraud cases are built on stacks of bland business documents and Internal Revenue Service paperwork - hardly the stuff of worldwide intrigue.

The heart of the government's case involves nine years of Manafort's lucrative lobbying and consulting for Ukraine and its former leader Victor Yanukovych, work the USA government said Manafort should have registered with the Justice Department.

"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.

But Uzo Asonye, an attorney with the special counsel's office, told jurors that Manafort considered himself above the law, and resorted to bank fraud when his overseas income couldn't support his lifestyle.

Mr Manafort, who has pleaded not guilty, faces 18 counts.

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In all, prosecutors say, more than $75 million flowed through the offshore accounts Manafort and Gates set up.

Manafort actively conferred with his lawyers during the jury selection process, writing and passing notes.

Trump reacted to Manafort's jailing in June by describing it as "very unfair".

Prosecutors preparing witnesses for the upcoming trial of President Donald Trump's one-time campaign chairman Paul J. Manafort are advising them to avoid mentioning Trump's name, ABC News has learned. National security lawyer Bradley Moss discusses the latest developments. But he was ensnared in the Russian Federation investigation previous year after Mueller began examining ties between Trump campaign staff and Russian Federation.

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 materialised.

A conviction would give momentum to Mr Mueller, who has indicted or secured guilty pleas from 32 people and three companies since the investigation started 14 months ago.

On the other hand, if he is convicted, it will "demonstrate to the public that President Trump's claims that the whole investigation is a witch hunt is not an accurate accusation", Dressler said. Trump denies any collusion with Russian Federation, and on Tuesday tried to make the case publicly that collusion would not be a crime anyway.

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