Paul Manafort trial: Former Trump aide 'put himself above the law'
01 August, 2018, 21:04 | Author: Diane Mills
A jury has been seated in the trial of President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, on tax evasion and bank fraud charges.
The appellate judges said Manafort was rightfully jailed because he had decided "to push the envelope by contributing to an op-ed in a foreign newspaper" while under a gag order, and also had "repeated communications with potential witnesses" for his upcoming trial.
Despite that, Manafort's case is widely viewed as a test to the legitimacy of Mueller's ongoing probe, which Trump has dismissed as a "witch hunt".
His trial is expected to be lengthy. Manafort has pleaded not guilty to those charges, as well.
"The government expects to prove that Manafort earned more than $60 million dollars from his Ukraine work during the period at issue and failed to report a significant percentage of it on his tax returns", prosecutors wrote.
His lawyers are seeking to exclude evidence at trial that details Mr Manafort's political lobbying work in Ukraine, saying it would be "irrelevant, prejudicial and unnecessarily time-consuming".
Testimony in the trial is expected to start Tuesday afternoon. One of the judges, T.S. Ellis, said prosecutors rightfully "followed the money paid by pro-Russian officials" to Manafort.
He faces twelve different counts, all felonies, which include conspiracy against the United States, failing to register as a foreign agent, making false statements about being a foreign agent, false statements to the Department of Justice, tax fraud, bank fraud, money laundering and more.
"Wow, what a tough sentence for Paul Manafort, who has represented Ronald Reagan, Bob Dole and many other top political people and campaigns", Trump tweeted on June 15.
The trial, starting with selection of a 12-member jury, coincides with growing speculation that Trump's former personal lawyer Michael Cohen may cooperate with federal investigators against the president.
But the Mueller team contends Manafort bankrolled a luxurious globe-trotting lifestyle with money he wasn't paying taxes on.
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. Five witnesses were granted immunity.
"They're going to be seeing a guy who spent half a million dollars just on landscaping", Turley said. He said Manafort "worked for me for a very short time".
Russian Federation has denied interfering in the election and Trump denies any involvement by his campaign. "Paul Manafort knew about the law".
Manafort has withdrawn his appeal of a judge's decision to throw out his civil lawsuit against Mueller, according to court filings.
The exchange occurred during the testimony of Federal Bureau of Investigation agent Mathew Mikuska, who raided Mr. Manafort's Alexandria, Virginia condo past year. Prosecutors, though, are recommending 8 years to 10 years.
At the same time, Mueller's team continues to press the president's legal team for an interview with the commander in chief.
In court on Wednesday, prosecutor Greg Andres asked Rabin, who produced TV ads for Manafort in Ukraine, about Rick Gates, Manafort's former business partner who is expected to be a star government witness, and Manafort associate Konstantin Kilimnik. "He could expose himself to further criminal culpability if he has to expose the full extent of those ties".
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The prospect of Manafort being found guilty on all charges could mean he spends the rest of his life in prison. On the eve of Tuesday's case, Mr Manafort abandoned his attempt to challenge Mr Mueller in civil court.
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