Manafort Drops Appeal of Civil Case Against Mueller

Howard TerryAug 01, 2018

The bank and tax fraud trial of Paul Manafort, President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman, got off to a quick start on Tuesday as the judge seated a jury and told prosecutors and defence lawyers to prepare to deliver opening statements.

Manafort is charged with failing to report the existence of foreign bank accounts to the Internal Revenue Service and bank fraud related to several multi-million-dollar loans he obtained from various banks.

Manafort ran Trump's campaign for five months in the spring of 2016. "There is nothing prejudicial about documents setting forth how the ads were made, how consultants were paid and who approved their work".

Gates was originally charged along with Manafort, but he eventually reached a plea deal and agreed to cooperate with the government.

It's the first trial to result from special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into potential ties between the Trump presidential campaign and Russian Federation. Trump repeatedly has sought to discredit the investigation, which is also looking into any possible unlawful Trump campaign coordination with Moscow.

Paul Manafort faces 18 criminal counts, including bank fraud, and could face up to 30 years in jail if found guilty.

Jury selection began Tuesday morning at the district courthouse in Alexandria, Virginia. Manafort's arguments have not ended well for him of late in Virginia, and it was Jackson who ordered that Manafort's pre-trial release conditions to be revoked. A judge said Gates faces between 57 and 71 months in prison for his offenses, though his sentence depends on the extent to which he cooperates with investigators.

The government also presented its first witness, Tad Devine, a political consultant who recalled his work with Manafort in Ukraine to help pro-Russian political figure Viktor Yanukovych, who was swept from power and fled to Russia in 2014. Mueller says Manafort et al., should be able to juggle all of this just fine and finish their homework in a week.

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.

"Rick Gates had his hands in the cookie jar and he didn't want his boss to find out", said defense lawyer Thomas Zehnle told the court, accusing Gates of being "willing to say anything to save himself".

Two officials said the White House had one strategy above all at the outset of Manafort's trial: Distance Trump from his former campaign chairman and downplay the legal proceedings underway in Alexandria, Virginia.

A jury of six men and six women was selected earlier Tuesday, along with four alternate jurors.

Manafort has pleaded not guilty.

"A man in this courtroom believed the law did not apply to him - not tax law, not banking law", Mr Asonye said of Mr Manafort as he sketched out the evidence gathered by special counsel Robert Mueller's team.

The special counsel has enlisted as many as 35 witnesses to testify against Manafort.

He is scheduled to go on trial in the USA capital in September on separate charges brought by Mueller of conspiracy, money laundering and failing to register as an agent of a foreign government.

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