Published: Tue, July 31, 2018
Worldwide | By Lisa Hogan

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

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

The case against Manafort, brought by Special Counsel Robert Mueller in the Eastern District of Virginia, is focused exclusively on allegations that the former Trump adviser had committed a range of financial crimes, from tax evasion to bank fraud, that have no direct tie to his campaign work.

"Evidence or argument relating to Mr. Manafort's work for then-candidate Trump's campaign in 2016 or the Special Counsel's investigation of the campaign's alleged collusion with the Russian government is wholly irrelevant to whether Mr. Manafort's personal income tax returns were false, whether he willfully failed to file reports of foreign accounts, and whether he conspired to commit, or committed, bank fraud", defense lawyers wrote. Manafort's work for the pro-Russian government in Ukraine plays a central role in the allegations against him, since prosecutors say he concealed income from that work from US tax officials and allegedly laundered more than $18 million in proceeds.

On Tuesday, a court will work to seat the 12 Northern Virginians who will decide whether President Trump's former campaign chairman is guilty of several felonies.

Prosecutors plan to produce almost three dozen witnesses during the trial, including Manafort's former associate Richard Gates, who is cooperating with the government after pleading guilty to lesser charges in February.

"The defense doesn't want to be prejudiced by association with Trump", Wisenberg opined. Or will special counsel Robert Mueller be handed a defeat in his team's first trial since his appointment more than a year ago?

"Mueller only has to secure one conviction on one count to put Manafort away for as much as a decade", he said. Appointed by President Ronald Reagan in 1987, Ellis has questioned the scope of Mueller's probe and said Manafort's indictment seemed to be aimed at getting him to provide information on Trump. Gates is still believed to be cooperating with the special counsel and no sentencing date has yet to be set. Other targets in the probe might also feel less pressure to co-operate in exchange for immunity.

Mueller has released a list of 35 potential witnesses he could call to the stand, including Gates, who is now a key co-operating witness in Mueller's investigation. Manafort's former co-defendant, Richard Gates, was Manafort's right hand man and worked for both DMP and DMI.

"The fact there's a co-operating witness who's going to tell the jury an inside story is critically important". Here's everything you need to know about the case.

He faces a separate trial in late September, on related charges, in Washington, D.C.

Seven prosecutors from Mueller's office were expected to feature prominently in the trial, including veteran government attorneys Andrew Weissmann and Greg Andres, who returned to the government from private practice to work on Mueller's probe.

Little's theory is Manafort may be hoping Trump will pardon him, "and just wants to delay, delay, delay until Trump feels comfortable doing that". If this goes to trial, it's because Manafort didn't have anything to trade. His bail was revoked on June 15, and he remains jailed ahead of his trial.

One potential witness was even told to be cautious when speaking of Manafort's NY residence - he owns a condominium in Trump Tower in midtown Manhattan, sources told ABC News.

The Virginia trial is expected to last at least two weeks.

A jury that takes a long time to deliberate might be hung up on legal technicalities, "but it might suggest that [they feel] that Mueller is overreaching" by going outside his original mandate, he said.

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

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