Star witness 'may not' testify in Manafort trial: Prosecutors

02 August, 2018, 11:28 | Author: Diane Mills
  • Manafort trial to shed light on Mueller probe evidence

Those were just some of the details about longtime Republican consultant Paul Manafort's lifestyle while he was working for foreign clients that federal prosecutors brought before jurors on the second day of his trial on tax and bank fraud charges.

None of the charges relate to the question of whether Russian Federation and Trump's campaign colluded during the 2016 presidential election. Some Democrats accused Trump of obstruction of justice.

Prosecutors then displayed a copy of an invoice on the screen that was different from the others Jacobsen had sent Manafort over the years.

He also said the prosecution is ahead of schedule and may rest its case next week, according to The Washington Post.

Manafort, 69, is charged with tax fraud, bank fraud and failing to report foreign bank accounts.

Zehnle appeared to be aiming to undermine the credibility of Gates, who pleaded guilty in February and agreed to cooperate with Mueller's investigation.

Rick Gates, Manafort's former business partner who pleaded guilty to making false statements after being indicted by Mueller, was expected to be a star government witness.

U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III told attorneys for special counsel Robert Mueller that the term "oligarchs" has a pejorative meaning and using it is not relevant to the fraud and tax charges against Manafort.

"The defense side is pointing to Gates.as they should", the former DOJ prosecutor said.

"That's not the American way", the judge said.

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Prosecutors allege that Manafort hid income he earned through political consulting for Yanukovych and funneled it through offshore accounts.

The prosecution called multiple witnesses to highlight and explain specific expensive payments Manafort had made. Maximillian Katzman, of New York's elite custom clothier Alan Couture, said Manafort was one of his top customers and, unlike any other customer, paid with worldwide wire transfers. Manafort spent $1.26 million on clothes at two high-end fashion shops, prosecutors showed.

A prosecutor showed Mikuska and the jury a series of invoices, including for home improvement work, that was seized by the Federal Bureau of Investigation during the August 2017 raid.

"I do not want a data dump", Ellis said, referring to a practice in which prosecutors submit so much evidence to the record that jurors do not see or hear about it until they are deliberating.

"You have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he signed tax documents to show he knowingly didn't represent his true income", Ellis said. In fact, at the outset of the day, Ellis even banned the word "oligarch" from the courtroom in reference to people Manafort dealt with during his work in Ukraine and Russian Federation, saying the word had "come to have a pejorative meaning". FBI Special Agent Matthew Mikuska, who participated in the raid on Manafort's Virginia condo last summer, said they found "closets full" of suits and numerous invoices, including one for $160,000, paid for by wire transfer from a Cypriot bank, for two silk rugs.

Pres. Trump derides previous administrations for not telling him about Paul Manafort's alleged crimes before he hired him to run his 2016 campaign.

"Attorney General Jeff Sessions should stop this Rigged Witch Hunt right now, before it continues to stain our country any further", the president tweeted.

Trump has denied that his campaign colluded with Russian Federation, and on Tuesday tried to make the case publicly that collusion would not be a crime anyway. US intelligence agencies concluded that Moscow directed the hacking of political groups and disinformation on social media to undermine Trump's presidential election opponent, Democrat Hillary Clinton, and aid Trump's candidacy. 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.

The judge has warned prosecutors not to inject Russian matters into the case, and on Wednesday morning instructed them not to use the word "oligarch" when describing some of the people connected to the case.

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