Manafort trial to shed light on Mueller probe evidence

The indictment was brought by special counsel Robert Mueller, the former Federal Bureau of Investigation director who is looking into Russian meddling in the presidential election, but the charges are not connected to Manafort's time as Trump's campaign chairman. "That's what Rick Gates was being paid to do". Asonye described how Manafort snapped up expensive real estate in the United States, spent millions of dollars on renovating his properties and more than a half million dollars on "fancy clothes".

On Tuesday morning, he was set to travel about 100 yards, from the Alexandria Detention Center to the Albert V Bryan courthouse in Virginia, for the first day of his trial on multiple felony charges including tax fraud, bank fraud and conspiracy.

The appellate judges said Manafort was rightfully jailed because he had decided "to push the envelope by contributing to an op-ed in a foreign newspaper" while under a gag order, and also had "repeated communications with potential witnesses" for his upcoming trial.

He warned jurors that Gates could not be trusted and was the type of witness who would say anything he could to save himself from a lengthy prison sentence and a crippling financial penalty.

Prosecutors are expected to argue that 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. Opening statements were expected later in the afternoon.

On Monday, prosecutors said in court filings that they meant to prove Manafort earned more than $60 million lobbying for the former pro-Russia Ukrainian government and failed to report "a significant percentage" of that.

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The trial is a major test for Mueller's team, which is facing a fresh onslaught of attacks from President Donald Trump and Republicans, who are using lies and exaggerations to blast Mueller and his investigators as biased against the president.

Instead, federal prosecutors will try to prove Manafort laundered more than $30 million in Ukrainian political consulting fees and concealed the money from the IRS. Four alternate jurors, three women and one man, also were chosen. The defense had anxious voters in Northern Virginia leaned more Democratic than in the western part of the state in 2016, but the Reagan-appointed judge said that was not the standard to assess whether a defendant could receive a fair trial.

Manafort faces 32 counts of filing false tax returns and bank fraud stemming from his work for former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, a pro-Russian leader.

"There was No Collusion (except by Crooked Hillary and the Democrats)!" Trump tweeted early Tuesday. A separate Washington, D.C. trial is scheduled to begin in September. It involves allegations that he acted as an unregistered foreign agent for Ukrainian interests and made false statements to the USA government. Manafort then asked the federal appeals court in Washington, DC, to review her decision. Three Russian companies have also been charged.

"What happened here is this involves political consulting work that Manafort and other people, his partner Richard Gates who pleaded guilty in [Robert] Mueller's investigation, this is conduct they were involved in going back to around 2004 and forward to about 2014, and a little bit beyond", McCarthy told Fox News' "America's Newsroom."

  • Sonia Alvarado