The Trump Presidency: Former campaign manager on trial Tuesday

Mueller's Team Releases List Of Key Witnesses Against Paul Manafort

Paul Manafort goes on trial in Alexandria federal court on bank- and tax-fraud charges brought by the special counsel investigating Russian involvement in the 2016 election. "When you can have a corroborating witness give testimony and corroborate it with documents that are otherwise unexplainable, you get a powerful case".

The trial is set to being at the Eastern District Courthouse in Alexandria, Virginia on July 31.

The Virginia trial is expected to last at least two weeks. One of the judges, T.S. Ellis, said prosecutors rightfully "followed the money paid by pro-Russian officials" to Manafort.

Responding to allegations that Manafort took the campaign job with Trump in 2016 to pay off debts he owed to a Russian oligarch, the defense fund website asserts that he was "motivated exclusively by his appreciation and ardor for our country".

Given the strength of the evidence, however, some legal experts have suggested Mr Manafort may be banking on an eventual pardon from Mr Trump, who has called his former campaign chairman a "nice guy" who has been treated unfairly. Manafort was no stranger to politics, having also served as an adviser on the campaigns of President Ford, President Reagan, President H.W. Bush, and Bob Dole.

Seven prosecutors from Mueller's office were expected to feature prominently in the trial, including veteran government attorneys Andrew Weissmann and Greg Andres, who returned to the government from private practice to work on Mueller's probe.

Instead, Judge Ellis directed USA marshals to move Manafort to the detention center in Alexandria, near the courthouse.

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Prosecutors also accuse him of lying to USA banks to obtain real estate loans in a bid to maintain a lavish lifestyle after his client, former pro-Russia Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, fell from power in 2014 and the money stopped. Yanukovych was elected in 2010 but fled the country for Russian Federation in 2014 in the wake of pro-Western protests. The charges carry a maximum combined sentence of 305 years in prison. However, the government is now recommending that Manafort serve 8 to 10 years if he is convicted. "Accordingly, to prove that Manafort earned that much income, the government must be able to show the extent of the work that he performed for Ukraine". They then used the money to purchase, refurbish and refinance their real estate holdings in the U.S.

Manafort is alleged - with Gates's help - to have hidden his income as loans and in offshore accounts, all while using his "hidden overseas wealth to enjoy a lavish lifestyle in the United States, without paying taxes on that income", including the purchase of multimillion-dollar properties and extravagant suits.

Mr Manafort, who has pleaded not guilty, faces 18 counts. As a result of his plea agreement, all charges in this case were dismissed and he will be testifying against Manafort. Gates has agreed to cooperate with the Mueller probe.

A conviction of the chairman of Trump's presidential campaign would be damning, even if it didn't lead to any new investigative breaks for Mueller, Little says. Three other aides, including longtime Manafort business partner Rick Gates, have pleaded guilty and are cooperating with Mueller's probe. Or will special counsel Robert Mueller be handed a defeat in his team's first trial since his appointment more than a year ago?

Manafort had been under house arrest, wearing two ankle bracelets to monitor his whereabouts for both of his criminal trials.

Manafort's team includes Kevin Downing, Thomas Zehnle, Richard Westling and Jay Rohit Nanavati, all former prosecutors with complex tax fraud case experience. He denies the charges. It was unclear if his role would surface during the first trial in Virginia.

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