Paul Manafort trial is first court test for special counsel Robert Mueller

The charges were filed Justice Department Special Counsel Robert Mueller, as part of his probe into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and suspected collusion with Trump's campaign.

Yanukovych's ouster in 2014 is relevant, the special counsel says, "because it explains Manafort's work for a different political party (the Opposition Bloc) and why his income later drops dramatically, which is relevant to the bank frauds that he later committed". Prosecutors say they may call as many as 35 witnesses, including five who have immunity agreements.

The judge overseeing that trial, Berman Jackson, revoked Manafort's bail last month and ordered him to await trial from a jail cell. He has since been co-operating with the investigation into Mr Manafort. Mueller's original mandate was to investigate not only potential collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian Federation, but also any other crimes arising from the probe.

Prosecutors have said they don't plan to offer evidence related to the Russian Federation case, and that references to Manafort's association with the Trump campaign will be limited. "There is going to be exhibits showing what he used the money for - to buy various properties and luxury goods".

"On top of that", he added, "the government will bring forth the coup de grace" with incriminating testimony by Gates, Manafort's former business partner.

Mr Manafort took over as chairman of the Trump campaign in May 2016 and aimed to present a more thoughtful candidate, who stuck to scripts instead of ad-libbing in campaign rallies. And they won't learn that Manafort's co-defendant in the Washington case is a business associate named Konstantin Kilimnik, who lives in Russia and who USA authorities assert has connections to Russian intelligence. But when the special counsel hit the two men with a second indictment in February, Gates pleaded guilty to two lesser counts in exchange for cooperation.


"Manafort has remained loyal", he said.

As for Mueller's bank fraud allegations, Zehnle said that Manafort was "open" with the outside professionals who helped to facilitate loans, about why he was seeking the money and what he planned to spend it on.

McCarthy said Tuesday that the charges likely were sought in order to obtain information about the Trump campaign.

As president, Trump has downplayed Manafort's role in the campaign.

The former political consultant, who ran the Trump campaign for three months, has pleaded not guilty. Manafort is accused of financial crimes, including bank fraud and tax evasion, relating to his lobbying work for the government of Ukraine. He denies the charges. "The choice there is serving time in a NY state prison like Rikers Island, as opposed to a plush federal prison". Witnesses have been told to avoid any mention of President Trump or anything related to his 2016 campaign.

On the other hand, if he is convicted, it will "demonstrate to the public that President Trump's claims that the whole investigation is a witch hunt is not an accurate accusation", Dressler said.


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