Published: Tue, July 31, 2018
Global Media | By Derrick Guzman

Manafort trial to shed light on Mueller probe evidence

Manafort trial to shed light on Mueller probe evidence

But what is expected to be missing from the trial, which begins on Tuesday (US time), will be answers about whether the Trump campaign coordinated with the Kremlin during the 2016 presidential election or any mention of Russian Federation at all.

In the Virginia trial, which begins Tuesday, Manafort faces charges of filing false tax returns; failing to report foreign financial accounts; and bank fraud and conspiracy.

Manafort's defense team has filed a flurry of motions - to suppress evidence gathered from a Virginia storage unit, to challenge the mandate of the special counsel and to delay the trial - almost all of which it has lost so far.

Manafort's trial promises tales of lavish spending, secret shell companies and millions of dollars of Ukrainian money flowing through offshore bank accounts and into the political consultant's pocket.

In recent months, prosecutors in Mueller's office have produced detailed indictments charging at least Russian 25 individuals and three Russian companies with crimes related to election interference, including hacking into the emails of the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign, money laundering and stealing US citizen's identities.

And it will unfold at a delicate time for the president as Mueller's team presses for an interview and as Trump escalates his attacks on an investigation he calls a "witch hunt". A legal defense fund effort on his behalf backfired when a video he filmed for one of its fundraisers prompted a scolding from a judge, who had imposed a gag order on the D.C. case. Manafort would eventually help Viktor Yanukovych, the leader of the Russia-aligned Party of Regions, win the presidency in 2010.

As a result of their work with Ukraine, Manafort and Gates made tens of millions of dollars between 2006 and 2015.

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.

The indictment unveiled when Gates was a co-defendant described his "assistance" in Manafort's alleged illegal acts, from disguising income from Ukraine as loans, to allegedly misleading accountants about foreign bank accounts that they should have disclosed to the government.

But while the trial will focus on Manafort's business dealings, it will bring attention to Mueller's Russian Federation probe, which Trump has repeatedly dismissed as a "witch hunt".

He's been in jail since last month when the judge presiding over the Washington case revoked his bail for allegedly tampering with potential witnesses.

According to former prosecutors, Gates' agreement with Mueller will likely be a target of Manafort's attorneys when they get a chance to cross examine him.

"You really don't care about Mr. Manafort's bank fraud.What you really care about is what information Mr. Manafort could give you that would reflect on Mr. Trump of lead to his prosecution or impeachment", Ellis said. Witnesses have been told to avoid any mention of President Trump or anything related to his 2016 campaign.

Last week, Ellis issued a series of guidelines for topics that would be off limits during the Manafort trial.

Adding to the intrigue is the expected spectacle of Manafort's deputy, Rick Gates, testifying against him after cutting a plea deal with prosecutors, and the speculation that Manafort, who faces charges in two different courts and decades in prison if convicted, may be holding out for a pardon from Trump.

Prosecutors working with Mueller dropped almost two dozen criminal fraud charges against Gates, who reached a plea deal.

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