Jury of six men, six women sworn in for Manafort trial

Manafort trial to shed light on Mueller probe evidence

The opening statements were delivered not long after the jury was selected and sworn in on Tuesday.

The special counsel inquiry into Russian efforts to meddle in the USA election faces its first courtroom test today at the trial of a former Trump campaign chief accused of bank and tax fraud.

The outcome of the trial, which is expected to last three weeks, could affect the momentum of Mr. Mueller's 14-month-long investigation into interference in the 2016 election, even though the charges cite activities that predate the Trump campaign and don't relate to any potential allegations of collusion with Russian Federation by Trump associates. An acquittal would give Mr. Mueller's critics ammunition to push for a quick end to the special counsel's operation.

"Those documents are relevant", Judge Ellis said, referring to prosecution exhibits showing the nature of Mr Manafort's funds, but added that it was not the end of the issue. The accounts were used to hold the more than $60 million Manafort earned doing pro-Russian lobbying in Ukraine.

"Money's coming in fast".

FILE PHOTO: Former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort departs from U.S. District Court in Washington, U.S., February 28, 2018. "That's what Rick Gates was being paid to do".

Expected to be a main witness, Gates was Manafort's right-hand man for years and has knowledge of their offshore accounts and work for Deripaska and in Ukraine.

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".

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

Jury selection is scheduled to start Tuesday. Opening statements were expected later in the afternoon. Zehnle said Manafort was not responsible for how or why those foreign bank accounts were set up, but was required by the Ukrainian backers paying his consulting bills that he be payed this way.

‘Totally unheard of & perhaps illegal’: Trump responds to secret lawyer tapes
According to CNN , the President had no idea the calls were being recorded. "The tweet is straightforward and correct". He also asserted, without elaborating, in post: "The good news is that your favorite President did nothing wrong! ".

Prosecutors are expected to argue that Mr Manafort's lavish spending on suits, homes and luxury items did not match the income declared on his tax returns and that he misled lenders when he borrowed tens of millions of dollars against NY real estate.

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

Prosecutors also accuse him of lying to US banks to obtain real estate loans in a bid to maintain a lavish lifestyle after his client, former pro-Russia Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych, fell from power in 2014 and the money stopped. There are 35 potential witnesses, many of them bankers and accountants expected to verify documents and speak to Manafort's alleged intent to violate the law.

The judge even interrupted the prosecutor during his opening statements to caution him against suggesting there was something criminal about being a multimillionaire.

The pool of jurors will face questions from both sides and U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III as they try to weed out potential prejudice in what has become a highly publicized and politically divisive investigation.

The case has been called the first test of Mueller's investigation, but McCarthy said it's "really not".

"There was No Collusion (except by Crooked Hillary and the Democrats)!" Trump denies any collusion with Russian Federation, and on Tuesday tried to make the case publicly that collusion would not be a crime anyway.

This isn't the only trial Manafort has on his schedule.

Dozens of jurors packed a federal courtroom Tuesday in Alexandria, Virginia, to face questions from a judge and lawyers about whether they can be fair and impartial. It involves allegations that he acted as an unregistered foreign agent for Ukrainian interests and made false statements to the USA government. There are also four alternates, three women and a man.

Gates has since pleaded guilty and agreed to help prosecutors with their case, as one of the government's star witnesses.

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