Published: Wed, August 01, 2018
Worldwide | By Sean Reid

Paul Manafort’s first trial begins this week: Here’s what to expect

Paul Manafort’s first trial begins this week: Here’s what to expect

What's likely to be missing: answers about whether the Trump campaign co-ordinated with the Kremlin during the 2016 presidential election, or really any mention of Russian Federation at all.

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. "When Mueller came in, he revived that investigation". The president criticized Mueller by name over the weekend and continues to refer to the special counsel investigation into Russian election interference as a "witch hunt" and "an illegal scam".

Paul Manafort, President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman, leaves the federal courthouse in Washington, D.C., February 14, 2018.

The case has been called the first test of Mueller's investigation, but McCarthy said it's "really not".

ALEXANDRIA, VA -Delivering his opening statement at the Virginia trial of former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort, his defense attorney targeted Manafort's longtime business deputy Rick Gates for allegedly "abusing" Manafort's trust and accused him of embezzling millions of dollars from his former employer. He pleaded not guilty to these allegations, and the case is scheduled to go to trial in mid-September. He was in the hot seat when Mr Trump eventually won the Republican nomination, and organised the Republican convention in July 2016.

Mr Manafort quit Mr Trump's team in August 2016. That leaves Manafort, 69, facing charges that could keep him behind bars for the rest of his life. They argued in one court filing that Mueller's office overstepped its authority by producing indictments that focused on details having "no connection to coordination between the Russian government and the Trump campaign". Earlier this month, the judge denied a bid by Manafort to move the case out of Alexandria.

As president, Trump has downplayed Manafort's role in the campaign. Manafort's wife, Kathleen, was sitting behind him in the courtroom. "They've gone back 12 years to find things about somebody, and I don't think it's right", Trump said.

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Manafort is the only American charged by Mueller to opt for a trial.

Trump reacted to Manafort's jailing in June by describing it as "very unfair".

In recent days, prosecutors have submitted a list of hundreds of exhibits they plan to introduce at trial, including financial documents and photographs of luxury cars and real estate properties Manafort bought with his Ukrainian income.

Prosecutors are expected to argue that Mr Manafort's lavish spending on suits, homes and luxury items did not match the income declared on his tax returns and that he misled lenders when he borrowed tens of millions of dollars against NY real estate.

Five witnesses have been granted immunity from prosecution to testify against Manafort. Gates, who worked alongside Manafort as a political consultant, was indicted along with Manafort in October 2017. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges. One of the judges, T.S. Ellis, said prosecutors rightfully "followed the money paid by pro-Russian officials" to Manafort.

A United States appeals court in Washington today rejected Mr Manafort's request to be released.

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