What does Mueller have? Manafort trial offers glimpse

01 August, 2018, 21:04 | Author: Jason Torres
  • Ex-Trump aide Manafort faces charges in first trial of Russia probe

At a recent hearing, U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III, who will preside over the trial, warned prosecutors to restrain themselves, noting the current "antipathy" toward Russia and how "most people in this country don't distinguish between Ukrainians and Russians".

But Uzo Asonye, an attorney with the special counsel's office, told jurors that Manafort considered himself above the law, and resorted to bank fraud when his overseas income couldn't support his lifestyle.

Gates, 46, pleaded guilty to two lesser charges February, agreeing to cooperate with the special counsel's investigation.

The charges against Manafort largely predate the five months he worked on the Trump team in 2016, some of them as campaign chairman.

He said Manafort entrusted him with running the day to day operations of the company, but instead Gates abused his trust and "embezzled tens of millions of dollars form his longtime employer".

Manafort, attorney Tom Zehnle told jurors, made a mistake in "placing his trust in the wrong person" who was now willing to say anything to keep himself out of trouble.

A defense lawyer painted a drastically different portrait of Manafort and made clear he will go after one of the government's star witnesses, former Manafort associate Rick Gates.

"A$3 s a result of time consuming trial preparation for that matter (which the Special Counsel has estimated will last approximately three weeks), Mr. Manafort requires additional time to confer with the Special Counsel regarding the contents of the Joint Pretrial Statement in this matter".

Activists hold signs during a protest outside the Albert V. Bryan United States Courthouse prior to the first day of the trial of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort Monday in Alexandria, Va. "What you really care about is what information Mr Manafort could give you that would reflect on Mr Trump or lead to his prosecution or impeachment".

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Yet the trial also contains pitfalls for Trump. Trump denies any collusion with Russian Federation, and on Tuesday tried to make the case publicly that collusion would not be a crime anyway.

"All of these charges boil down to one simple issue: that Paul Manafort lied", Asonye said.

But prosecutor Uso Asonye said jurors may not hear from Mr. Gates after all.

By midday, a jury of six women and six men, with four alternates, was in place.

Manafort has used similar arguments to challenge his indictments in Virginia and Washington.

The former Trump campaign head was ordered to jail by a judge on new charges that he was tampering with witnesses.

There are 35 potential witnesses, many of them bankers and accountants expected to verify documents and speak to Manafort's alleged intent to violate the law.

"When a prosecutor looks into those dealings and uncovers evidence of criminal culpability", said Stanford law professor David Alan Sklansky, "it doesn't make sense to ask him to avert his eyes". It involves allegations that he acted as an unregistered foreign agent for Ukrainian interests and made false statements to the USA government. Three Russian companies have also been charged.

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