Trial of Ex-Trump Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort Set To Begin

TPM Illustration

TPM Illustration

The case against Manafort, brought by Special Counsel Robert Mueller in the Eastern District of Virginia, is focused exclusively on allegations that the former Trump adviser had committed a range of financial crimes, from tax evasion to bank fraud, that have no direct tie to his campaign work.

What spectators won't hear much about is his time running Trump's presidential campaign or attempts to prove he colluded with Russian officials to influence the election.

Prosecutor Greg Andres readily agreed, telling the court, "We don't intend to mention alleged collusion with the Russians", and saying that only "a very small portion of the trial" will mention collusion - but only insofar as it relates to the government's claim of a quid-pro-quo relationship in which Manafort received bank loans allegedly in exchange for a Trump campaign position for a former bank chairman. Jon Brain reports from Washington. At least five of the witnesses listed are testifying after receiving immunity.

On the one hand, such evidence is hard for Manafort's attorneys to dispute - "because really hard to cross examine a document", Cotter said- but it could be boring or difficult for jurors to follow.

Trump and his lawyers have repeatedly sought to play down Manafort's connection to the president, yet the trial won't be entirely without references to the campaign.

He is scheduled to go on trial in the United States capital in September on separate charges brought by Mueller of conspiracy, money laundering and failing to register as an agent of a foreign government.

But once Mueller's Russian Federation investigation ends, Giuliani told Reuters: "He has a right to consider it". He has pleaded not guilty to the charges against him.

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It was the summer of 2016, Paul Manafort was a campaign chairman, and his candidate, Donald Trump, was the newly crowned Republican presidential nominee.

While jurors will be hearing painstaking detail about Manafort's finances, they won't be told about Manafort's other criminal case, in the nation's capital, where he faces charges of acting as an unregistered foreign agent and lying to the government. 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. Now Rick Gates - who, at one time, was also Manafort's co-defendant - is expected to be the key witness against his old business partner and mentor in his trial on bank and tax fraud charges. More than $75 million flowed through the offshore accounts, $30 million of which was concealed from the Treasury Department, according to the indictment.

Manafort was initially ordered to remain under house arrest as he awaited trial, but U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson, who is presiding over the case in the District of Columbia, sent him to jail in June after prosecutors flagged evidence that Manafort had been trying to influence the testimony of potential witnesses.

Rudy Giuliani, a lawyer for Trump, said no one facing trial should expect a pardon, but he did not rule one out.

One potential witness was even told to be cautious when speaking of Manafort's NY residence - he owns a condominium in Trump Tower in midtown Manhattan, sources told ABC News. "Didn't know Manafort was the head of the Mob".

Manafort had been under federal investigation since 2014 over suspicion of illegal lobbying and financial improprieties.

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