What you need to know before Paul Manafort’s trial

31 July, 2018, 15:38 | Author: Diane Mills
  • Paul Manafort spent $18,000 on karaoke equipment court documents reveal

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

The trial for President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, who was indicted in special counsel Robert Mueller's Russian Federation probe, begins this week in Virginia. 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.

On the eve of Tuesday's case, Mr Manafort abandoned his attempt to challenge Mr Mueller in civil court. In fact, prosecutors said last week they don't expect the word "Russia" to be mentioned at all. It's the first trial resulting from the investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

Much of the evidence prosecutors are putting forward is what lawyers call a "document case", i.e. the financial records showing where millions of dollars have traveled and whether or not those cash-flows were properly disclosed or subjected to taxes under federal law. It was unclear if his role would surface during the first trial in Virginia.

The focus on Manafort's personal dealings, rather than Russian Federation, aren't surprising considering the Special Counsel indictment didn't mention the Kremlin, the 2016 presidential election or collusion a single time.

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. The grand jury indictment accused Manafort of funneling the money to offshore accounts in Cyprus, the Seychelles and other locations, as well as failing to report it to the IRS.

"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 US attorney said in an email to TPM, pointing to the number of email exchanges including Gates that are referenced in Mueller's exhibit list.

Gates pleaded guilty in February to charges of conspiring against the USA and of making false statements to the federal government.

None of the charges have any explicit connection to Russia's efforts to influence the 2016 election, and Manafort's lawyers had previously sought to dismiss the indictments against him.

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The trial, scheduled to begin Tuesday with jury selection in Alexandria, Virginia, will give the public its most detailed glimpse of evidence Mueller's team has spent the year accumulating.

But even a presidential pardon may not help.

Soon after, Mueller's office brought new charges against Manafort, adding counts of obstruction of justice and conspiracy to his case in the District of Columbia.

It was the summer of 2016, Paul Manafort was a campaign chairman, and his candidate, Donald Trump, was the newly crowned Republican presidential nominee.

But that lofty rhetoric stands in contrast to Manafort's current circumstances.

The prospect of Manafort being found guilty on all charges could mean he spends the rest of his life in prison. At least five of the witnesses listed are testifying after receiving immunity.

Paul Manafort poses for a mugshot photo at the Alexandria Detention Center in Alexandria, Virgina. That facility has housed a variety of prominent defendants including Zacarias Moussaoui, who faced terrorism offenses; and spies Robert Hanssen and Aldrich Ames, among others.

The trial is expected to last about three weeks.

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