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

Larry Hoffman
July 31, 2018

It is the first full tally provided by Robert Mueller, the special counsel investigating collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian Federation, of Mr Manafort's income from his work as a political consultant in Ukraine.

It's a significant milestone for the probe, which began exactly two years ago as an Federal Bureau of Investigation counterintelligence inquiry into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. Manafort's former co-defendant, Richard Gates, was Manafort's right hand man and worked for both DMP and DMI. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges against him.

Manafort, left, faces 32 financial charges brought by special counsel Robert Mueller, right, who is leading the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 US presidential election, including possible collusion between Russia and members of Trump's campaign team.

President Donald Trump listens during a joint press conference with Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte in the East Room of the White House, July 30, 2018. Trump has given no indication that he'll pardon his former campaign chairman. It will feature testimony about the business dealings and foreign ties of a defendant Trump entrusted to run his campaign during a critical stretch in 2016, including during the Republican convention.

While working for Yanukovych and his pro-Russia Party of Regions between 2006 and 2015, Manafort and his former business partner Rick Gates allegedly earned tens of millions of dollars in fees while hiding the income from the IRS.

The exhibits show that Manafort, in addition to work on multiple Ukrainian elections, did political consulting and lobbying work for Yanukovych outside specific campaigns.

Manafort was indicted along with Gates in Mueller's wide-ranging investigation, but he is the only American charged to opt for a trial instead of co-operating with the government. At one point, his defence lawyers sued Mueller and the Justice Department, saying they had overstepped their bounds by bringing a prosecution untethered to the core questions of Mueller's investigation - whether Russian Federation worked with the Trump campaign to tip the election. Judge T.S. Ellis III of the United States District Court, presiding over the Virginia case, wrote in June that "it is plausible, indeed ultimately persuasive here, to argue that the investigation and prosecution has some relevance to the election which occurred months if not years after the alleged misconduct". If Manafort is convicted, it could hurt Trump's claims. The evidence will also demonstrate that he was paid through foreign accounts, they said.

Manafort remained defiant, vowing to fight the charges.

In all, prosecutors say, more than $75 million flowed through the offshore accounts Manafort and Gates set up.

Manafort has spent the past month in prison in Alexandria outside Washington after having his house arrest and $10 million bail revoked by a federal judge for allegedly tampering with witnesses in another pending case.

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.

The judge told potential jurors the trial would last no more than three weeks. Gates falsely claimed in a letter to a bank that a $300,000 delinquency on Manafort's credit card was a loan to him that Gates meant to pay back, the prosecutors alleged.

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