Trial set to begin for ex-Trump campaign chairman Manafort

WASHINGTON — Two questions loom massive as Paul Manafort prepares to stroll right into a federal courtroom Tuesday: Will Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman spend what successfully might be the remainder of his life in jail? Or will particular counsel Robert Mueller be handed a defeat in his crew’s first trial since his appointment greater than a yr in the past?

Those questions can be answered by 12 jurors chosen this week as Manafort’s trial on tax evasion and financial institution fraud fees will get underway on the courthouse in Alexandria, Virginia. The pool of jurors will face questions from either side and U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III as they struggle to weed out potential prejudice in what has turn into a extremely publicized and politically divisive investigation.

That job comes because the president and his lawyer-spokesman, Rudy Giuliani, have intensified their makes an attempt to undermine the Mueller investigation within the court docket of public opinion and because the president continues to waffle on whether or not he’ll sit for a personal interview with prosecutors. The president criticized Mueller by identify over the weekend and continues to refer to the particular counsel investigation into Russian election interference as a “witch hunt” and “an illegal scam.”

While the principle areas of Mueller’s investigation are Russia’s actions in the course of the 2016 presidential election and any makes an attempt by Trump to hinder justice, none of these matters are anticipated to come up in Manafort’s trial. In reality, prosecutors mentioned final week they don’t anticipate the phrase “Russia” to be talked about in any respect.

Instead, the trial will centre on Manafort’s Ukrainian consulting work and solely briefly contact on his involvement with the president’s campaign.

Prosecutors have lined up 35 witnesses and greater than 500 items of proof they are saying will present how Manafort earned greater than $60 million from his Ukrainian work after which hid a “significant percentage” of that money from the IRS. Prosecutors will even argue that Manafort fraudulently obtained tens of millions extra in financial institution loans, together with throughout his time on the campaign.

In specific, prosecutors say they may introduce proof {that a} chairman of one of many banks allowed Manafort to file inaccurate mortgage data in change for a task on the Republican campaign and the promise of a job within the Trump administration that by no means materialized.

At the centre of all this can be one other Trump campaign aide, Rick Gates, who spent years working for Manafort in Ukraine and can also be accused of serving to him falsify paperwork used to receive the financial institution loans. Gates, who reduce a plea take care of Mueller earlier this yr, is predicted to testify towards his former mentor.

Gates can also be anticipated to play a key position in Manafort’s second trial scheduled for September. That trial, set within the District of Columbia, entails allegations that the longtime political marketing consultant acted as an unregistered overseas agent for Ukrainian pursuits and made false statements to the U.S. authorities.

Manafort is the one American charged by Mueller to decide for a trial.

The different 31 folks charged have both pleaded responsible or are Russians seen as unlikely to enter an American courtroom. Three Russian firms have additionally been charged. One of these firms has pleaded not responsible and is preventing the allegations in federal court docket in Washington.

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Follow Chad Day at https://twitter.com/ChadSDay and Eric Tucker on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/etuckerAP

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