Published: Tue, July 31, 2018
World | By Camille Rivera

Former Trump Campaign Chair Heads to Trial

Former Trump Campaign Chair Heads to Trial

After a rocky road to cooperating with special counsel Robert Mueller's Russian Federation probe, Gates is expected to provide critical testimony against Manafort, whose own attorney has called Gates the "heart" of the government's case.

But the broader implications are unmistakable.

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.

Among the witnesses is Rick Gates, Manafort's deputy and co-defendant, who pleaded guilty this year and agreed to cooperate.

It was the summer of 2016, Paul Manafort was a campaign chairman, and his candidate, Donald Trump, was the newly crowned Republican presidential nominee. Manafort faces related charges in a federal court in the District, where his trial will begin in September.

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Manafort's attorneys last week fingered over 50 exhibits included on a proposed government list as prejudicial and irrelevant and asked the judge to disallow them from his trial, set to begin with jury selection on Tuesday.

Manafort was present during the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting that was set up after a Kremlin-linked lawyer offered up dirt on Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton to members of the Trump campaign. He pleaded not guilty, and through a spokesman said, "This fight is just beginning".

Prosecutors said in court filings that the evidence, which includes "memoranda, emails, and photos" shows Mr. Manafort earned more than he claimed on his tax returns.

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.

Mueller's team has indicted or secured guilty pleas from 32 people and three companies, including the indictment of 12 Russian intelligence officials.

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The heart of the government's case involves nine years of Manafort's lucrative lobbying and consulting for Ukraine and its former leader Victor Yanukovych, work the US government said Manafort should have registered with the Justice Department.

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.

Ellis rejected that argument despite having initially questioned the special counsel's motives for bringing the case.

Manafort is also charged in federal court in Washington with undisclosed foreign lobbying and money laundering. Gates falsely claimed in a letter to a bank that a $300,000 delinquency on Manafort's credit card was a loan to him that Gates meant to pay back, the prosecutors alleged.

Manafort was given the option to consolidate both trials into one. That ruling came after Ellis had read the unredacted U.S. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein memo appointing Mueller to take over the Russian Federation investigation. 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.

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Much of the evidence prosecutors are putting forward is what lawyers call a "document case", i.e. the financial records showing where millions of dollars have traveled and whether or not those cash-flows were properly disclosed or subjected to taxes under federal law.

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