Paul Manafort's bank fraud trial begins in Virginia

01 August, 2018, 21:07 | Author: Mable Gonzales
  • Another Narrative Busted: The Focus of Manafort's Upcoming Trial Will Make Liberals Very Sad

U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III says oligarch has a "pejorative" meaning and using it isn't relevant to the bank fraud and tax evasion charges against Manafort.

During his opening statement, Assistant US Attorney Uzo Asonye told the jury that Mr Manafort considered himself above the law as he funnelled tens of millions of dollars through offshore accounts.

The case against Manafort outlined by prosecutors on Tuesday represents a new phase in Mueller's investigation into Russian election meddling - the first jury trial stemming from the probe that President Donald Trump has repeatedly attacked as a "witch hunt".

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 USA and lying to federal authorities.

Paul Manafort, left, President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman, walks with this wife Kathleen Manafort, as they arrive at the Alexandria Federal Courthouse in March.

Defence attorney Thomas Zehnle said in his opening statement that Manafort trusted others to keep track of the millions of dollars he was earning from his Ukrainian political work.

Lawyers for Manafort countered by painting Manafort as a victim of his employees, including former colleague Rick Gates, who is cooperating with Mueller's probe.

The trial heads into its second day Wednesday, a day after the jury was seated, both sides presented their opening statements and the government's first witness took the stand.

Manafort, 69, has pleaded not guilty to 18 counts of bank and tax fraud related to his lobbying activities on behalf of the former Russian-backed government of Ukraine.

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The question of collusion with Russian Federation is not at the heart of the case against Manafort - the charges largely pre-date the five months he worked for Trump during a pivotal period in the 2016 race for the White House, some of them as campaign chairman. "What you really care about is what information Mr Manafort could give you that would reflect on Mr Trump or lead to his prosecution or impeachment". Gates also worked as an aide on Trump's campaign. Mr Trump tweeted early on Tuesday.

"Paul Manafort travels in circles that most people will never know and he's gotten handsomely rewarded for it", Zehnle said.

"This case is about trust because it's about Mr. Manafort placing his trust in the wrong person", Zehnle said of.

A total of 16 jurors, 12 regular and four alternates, will be chosen after being screened for potential bias. Giuliani said he and Jay Sekulow, another Trump lawyer, had told the president: "This would be a very bad thing to do now".

Manafort has used similar arguments to challenge his indictments in Virginia and Washington.

FILE PHOTO: Former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort departs from U.S. District Court in Washington, DC, U.S., February 28, 2018.

But Zehnle said there was no evidence that Manafort ever meant to deceive the IRS. Three Russian companies have also been charged.

The unsuccessful civil lawsuit sought, among other things, to prevent Mueller from bringing additional charges in the future, including potential charges relating to Manafort's work on the Trump campaign.

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