Ex-Trump campaign chief Paul Manafort goes on trial for bank fraud

Ex-Trump campaign chief Paul Manafort goes on trial for bank fraud

Ex-Trump campaign chief Paul Manafort goes on trial for bank fraud

An attorney for former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort told jurors during opening arguments in his tax and bank fraud trial on Tuesday that Manafort's longtime aide Rick Gates ― now a witness for special counsel Robert Mueller ― is a liar who can't be trusted. The added evidence also appears to include documents related to bank accounts in Cyprus.

Two officials said the White House had one strategy above all at the outset of Manafort's trial: Distance Trump from his former campaign chairman and downplay the legal proceedings underway in Alexandria, Virginia.

"It was a really incredible operation", Devine said of Manafort's work for Yanukovych, who became Ukraine's president in 2010, was removed from power four years later and lives in exile in Russian Federation.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Uzo Asonye said Manafort made tens of millions of dollars as a political consultant in Ukraine, but used offshore shell companies and foreign bank accounts to avoid paying U.S. taxes on much of the money.

His lawyers are seeking to exclude evidence at trial that details Mr Manafort's political lobbying work in Ukraine, saying it would be "irrelevant, prejudicial and unnecessarily time-consuming".

Gates, who cut a plea deal with Mueller earlier this year, is expected to testify against his former mentor. Prosecutors say he hid millions of dollars in income from lobbying for Ukrainian politicians, failed to pay taxes while spending the money on United States real estate and luxury purchases, and lied to banks in order to take out more than $20 million in loans.

Prosecutors say the evidence is also necessary to illustrate Manafort's relationship with the oligarchs who supported the Party of Regions and who paid him through foreign bank accounts.

But Zehnle disputed prosecutors' account that Manafort was trying to hide his earnings by storing money in bank accounts in Cyprus.

None said they knew Manafort, his lawyers or their law firms.

The trial is a major test for Mueller's team, which is facing a fresh onslaught of attacks from President Donald Trump and Republicans, who are using lies and exaggerations to blast Mueller and his investigators as biased against the president.

"Rick Gates had his hands in the cookie jar and he didn't want his boss to find out", defense lawyer Thomas Zehnle told the court during his opening statement on Tuesday, accusing Gates of being "willing to say anything to save himself".

Federal Judge T.S. Ellis III said the term was "pejorative" and carried criminal connotations that suggested Paul Manafort "associated with despicable people, and therefore he is despicable".

Six men and six women, along with four alternate jurors, were chosen on Tuesday.

US intelligence agencies concluded that Moscow directed the hacking of political groups and disinformation on social media to undermine Trump's presidential election opponent, Democrat Hillary Clinton, and aid Trump's candidacy.

None of the 18 counts against Manafort deal with collusion or conspiracy with a foreign nation, and the word Russian Federation has not been mentioned through the trial's first two days.

Manafort has a second trial scheduled for September in the District of Columbia. But Butina also appeared to have had a broader mission, The Daily Beast reports, detailing an encounter in which Butina urged legendary US financial executive Maurice "Hank" Greenberg to pour more money into the secretly insolvent Russian bank Investtorgbank, leaving observers "shocked and disturbed" at her audacity.

He faces additional charges in district court in Washington DC.

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