Published: Wed, August 01, 2018
Global | By Enrique Rogers

Manafort is first ex-Trump aide on trial in Russian Federation probe

Manafort is first ex-Trump aide on trial in Russian Federation probe

U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III specifically told prosecutors to stop using the word "oligarch" to describe wealthy Ukrainians, whose dealings with Manafort are at the heart of the fraud charges he faces in northern Virginia federal court.

In his opening statement, federal prosecutor Uzo Asonye said the case, "boils down to one thing: Did Paul Manafort lie?"

Paul Manafort orchestrated a multi-million-dollar conspiracy to evade USA tax and banking laws, leaving behind a trail of lies as he lived a lavish lifestyle, prosecutors say as they lay out their case against the former Trump campaign chairman. But that trust was misplaced, Zehnle said in an opening statement that made clear that undermining the credibility of Gates - a former Trump campaign aide who spent years working for Manafort in Ukraine - is central to the defense strategy.

Prosecutors have said they don't plan during Manafort's fraud trial to offer evidence related to the Russian Federation case, or make many references to Manafort's association with the Trump campaign.

The trial heads into its second day Wednesday, a day after the jury was seated, both sides presented their opening statements and the government's first witness took the stand.

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

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It may not be about Russian Federation, but it will be held in the shadow of the collusion controversy that's long loomed over the White House. "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".

Trump has repeatedly denounced the special counsel's investigation as a politically motivated "witch hunt" and denied there was any collusion with Moscow to defeat Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

On Tuesday Trump tweeted that "collusion is not a crime", as the trial kicked off. They said he was embezzling money and later lied about it to investigators - before agreeing to flip and testify against Manafort.

Just before 2 p.m., prosecutors and defense attorneys finalized the twelve men and women who will serve as jurors, as well as four alternates.

"The documents establish the breadth of the work that Manafort performed, including commissioning television ads, writing speeches and carrying on campaign-related activities", read the filing, Bloomberg states. Giuliani said he and Jay Sekulow, another Trump lawyer, had told the president: "This would be a very bad thing to do now". "The Special Counsel consents to a one week extension of the deadline to submit a Joint Pretrial Order but objects to the longer extension Mr. Manafort seeks in this motion", they continued.

Prosecutors say they may call as many as 35 witnesses, including five who have immunity agreements. That trial, set in the District of Columbia, involves allegations that the longtime political consultant acted as an unregistered foreign agent for Ukrainian interests and made false statements to the USA government. So far, 32 people and three companies have been charged by Mr Mueller.

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