What you need to know about the Paul Manafort trial

31 July, 2018, 13:59 | Author: Roderick Gutierrez
  • Mueller releases list of potential witnesses in Paul Manafort's trial

Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort begins his first of two trials on Tuesday.

Prosecutors have lined up 35 witnesses and more than 500 pieces of evidence they say will show how Manafort earned more than $60 million from his Ukrainian work and then concealed a "significant percentage" of that money from the IRS. Jon Brain reports from Washington.

Lawyers working for special counsel Robert Mueller plan to call witnesses they say demonstrate where Manafort spent his allegedly ill-gotten gains: custom-made suits; Persian rugs; landscaping fees; Land Rovers and Mercedes-Benz vehicles; and season tickets to the New York Yankees, among other items.

"It seems to me we're seeing deeper ties that Manafort has had financially with his business deals in the Ukraine and with Russian Federation", said Shanlon Wu, a former lawyer for Manafort associate Rick Gates, who pleaded guilty in February and is aiding Mueller's probe.

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.

He is scheduled to go on trial in the U.S. capital in September on separate charges brought by Mueller of conspiracy, money laundering and failing to register as an agent of a foreign government. However, Ellis denied Manafort's request to dismiss the criminal charges against him, saying his lobbying work "warranted the investigation here".

The other 31 people charged have either pleaded guilty or are Russians seen as unlikely to enter an American courtroom.


Over the next three weeks a jury in Alexandria, Virginia, is expected to hear descriptions of his lavish lifestyle and Cypriot shell companies, his ties with Ukrainian oligarchs, and allegedly fraudulent property deals created to deceive the U.S. tax authorities.

"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.

Joshua Dressler, a law professor at Ohio State University, said the evidence against Manafort, 69, appeared strong but that he drew a favourable judge in the 78-year old T.S. Ellis, who is known to be tough on prosecutors. The work that Manafort did in the USA on behalf of Yanukovych, the government of Ukraine, and Yanukovych's Party of Regions is at the heart of the special counsel's indictment. His longtime business partner Rick Gates faces numerous same charges.

Rudy Giuliani, a lawyer for Trump, said no one facing trial should expect a pardon, but he did not rule one out.

Gates worked as Manafort's deputy when he was chairman of the Trump campaign. But in June, his bail terms were revoked and he was jailed to await trial after it was alleged that he tried to contact and sway two government witnesses by phone.

Manafort's defence strategy is still unknown. He also questioned why Mueller's office was pursuing the bank fraud charges against Manafort, but has handed off the investigation of Michael Cohen to prosecutors in Manhattan.

"Manafort has remained loyal", he said. And there's always the possibility that Manafort could take a plea deal during the trial if his defense falls apart, opting for a lighter sentence in exchange of telling Mueller's team anything he may know about possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian Federation.

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