Former Trump campaign chief goes on trial for bank, tax fraud

Fox News host knocks Trump for ‘obvious mistake’ of hiring Paul Manafort: All they had to do was Google him

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. "Obviously, that's very risky for him".

Mueller has indicted a total of 32 people so far in connection with his probe into whether any members of Trump's election campaign colluded with Russian Federation to help get the NY real estate tycoon into the White House.

The Party of Regions, a pro-Russia political party in Ukraine, retained Manafort around 2006 "to advance its interests in Ukraine, the United States, and elsewhere, including the election of its Ukrainian slate of candidates", according to the indictment. There's likely to be testimony, too, about tailored Beverly Hills clothing, high-end antiques, rugs and art and New York Yankees seasons tickets.

Manafort was in charge of Trump's campaign when the NY real estate developer accepted the party's presidential nomination at the Republican National Convention in 2016.

Lawyers have tangled over how much jurors will hear of his overseas political work, particularly about his ties to Russian Federation and other wealthy political figures.

The names include Manafort's former right hand man Rick Gates, as well as political operative Tad Devine, who worked with the former Trump campaign chairman in Ukraine.

Prosecutor Greg Andres reassured the judge that "there will be no pictures of scantily clad women, period", nor photographs of Russian flags. In fact, prosecutors said last week they don't expect the word "Russia" to be mentioned at all.

Donald Trump denies all, attacking Mueller and Cohen over Russia probe
The Russian government said through intermediaries to Trump Jr. that it was supporting Trump and wanted to help the campaign. President Trump and his son have denied that Trump knew in advance of the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting.

After Yanukovych was deposed in 2014 and their Ukrainian income dwindled, Manafort and Gates allegedly came up with another scheme to obtain money: the two used their real estate properties in the U.S.as collateral to fraudulently secure more than $20 million in bank loans by "falsely inflating" their income. During a May hearing in Alexandria, Virginia, Ellis said, "I don't see what relation this indictment has with what the special counsel is authorized to investigate".

Manafort has been in jail since last month when a judge revoked his house arrest over allegations that he and an associate tried to tamper with witnesses in the case.

Prosecutors also claimed Mr. Manafort's motion was overly broad. "What you really care about is what information Mr Manafort could give you that would reflect on Mr Trump or lead to his prosecution or impeachment".

"The documents establish the breadth of the work that Manafort performed, including commissioning television ads, writing speeches and carrying on campaign-related activities", read the filing, Bloomberg states. The administration job never materialized. But none of the cases stemming from Mueller's probe have gone to a jury trial - until now.

Ellis rejected that argument despite having initially questioned the special counsel's motives for bringing the case. Trump has given no indication that he'll pardon his former campaign chairman.

Manafort filed the initial lawsuit in January against Mueller, the Justice Department and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who appointed Mueller as special counsel. But he was ensnared in the Russian Federation investigation a year ago after Mueller began examining ties between Trump campaign staff and Russian Federation.

"When a prosecutor looks into those dealings and uncovers evidence of criminal culpability", said Stanford law professor David Alan Sklansky, "it doesn't make sense to ask him to avert his eyes".

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