Ex-Trump aide Manafort goes on trial in Russian Federation probe

A jury has been seated in the trial of President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, on tax evasion and bank fraud charges.

One is that he earned more than $60 million in consulting fees in Ukraine between 2010 and 2014 but evaded US taxes on most of the income by setting up secret shell companies for the goal of disguising the money as "loans".

Zehnle said Manafort, earning millions as a political consultant helping officials in other parts of the world, relied on Gates and others - including a professional accounting firm - to keep watch over the money.

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

The trial, in Alexandria, Virginia, is expected to last at least three weeks.

A pretrial hearing on the issue is slated for 9 a.m. (1300 GMT) on Tuesday, before jury selection begins.

"The judge has very strictly instructed no mention of Paul Manafort's role in the Trump campaign, no mention of Trump, Russia or collusion", senior White House aide Kellyanne Conway said Tuesday morning on Fox News.

Mr Mueller was not present in the courtroom on Tuesday.

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"Bob Mueller is totally conflicted", Trump continued.

USA 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. That was an apparent reference to one of the expensive purchases Mr. Manafort allegedly made which prosecutors said they planned to describe at trial.

A total of 16 jurors, 12 regular and four alternates, will be chosen after being screened for potential bias.

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

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. "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 added evidence also appears to include documents related to bank accounts in Cyprus.

Manafort, the former chairman of the Donald Trump presidential campaign, was jailed in mid-June on suspicions of witness tampering.

Lawyers for Manafort countered by painting Manafort as a victim of his employees, including former colleague Rick Gates, who is cooperating with Mueller's probe. The second trial, scheduled for September in the District of Columbia, involves allegations that he acted as an unregistered foreign agent for Ukrainian interests.

But after initially fighting the charges, Gates pleaded guilty in February and has been cooperating with the special counsel's office since then. 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.

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