Published: Thu, August 02, 2018
World News | By Sandy Lane

Pres. Trump blasts past administrations for Paul Manafort probe

Pres. Trump blasts past administrations for Paul Manafort probe

Paul Manafort on Tuesday will become the first of President Donald Trump's former aides to go on trial, accused of bank and tax fraud by federal investigators probing Russian meddling in the 2016 USA presidential election.

Activists hold signs during a protest outside the Albert V. Bryan United States Courthouse prior to the first day of the trial of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort Monday in Alexandria, Va.

Defense lawyers also sought to address head-on Manafort's wealth and the images of a gaudy lifestyle that jurors are expected to see during the trial.

Gates, former national security adviser Michael Flynn and George Papadopoulos, a foreign policy adviser on the campaign, all have pleaded guilty. Zehnle told jurors that Manafort "rendered a valuable service to our system of government" because of his involvement in multiple presidential campaigns.

The judge in the trial of onetime Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort is telling prosecutors not to use the word "oligarch" to describe wealthy Ukrainians who paid millions to Manafort for his work as an global political consultant.

The prosecution is laying out the evidence gathered by special counsel Robert Mueller's team.

More news: California firefighter lost home in Carr blaze while battling another

Manafort and Gates were indicted last year and earlier this year on charges related to their work in Ukraine by special counsel Robert Mueller, who is leading the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election. Prosecutors say they may call as many as 35 witnesses, including five who have immunity agreements.

"That's not the American way", the judge added.

Manafort's defense team, meanwhile, pointed blame at his longtime deputy Rick Gates, who has pleaded guilty to conspiracy and lying to investigators after being charged alongside Manafort.

Though prosecutors made no reference to Trump nor discussed in any way Manafort's leadership of the Trump campaign, Manafort's case is nonetheless widely viewed as a test to the legitimacy of Mueller's ongoing probe, which Trump has dismissed as a "witch hunt".

"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".

Trump has vacillated between showing sympathy for Manafort and trying to distance himself.

More news: New Pixel 3 XL Leaked, Showing Google’s Design Shift

Manafort attended a June 2016 Trump Tower meeting with Russians that is a focal point of Mueller's probe.

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. Four alternate jurors were also chosen.

Manafort, 69, was wearing a black suit, white shirt and a tie.

One witness, Maximillian Katzman, said Manafort was one of the best customers at the luxury menswear boutique where he used to work in Midtown Manahattan. Manafort has filed a motion to have details of that work excluded from trial. So far, 32 people and three companies have been charged by Mr Mueller. While the main areas of Mueller's investigation are Russia's actions during the 2016 presidential election and any attempts by Trump to obstruct justice, none of those topics are expected to come up in Manafort's trial. U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III will try to weed out potential prejudice in what has become a highly publicized and politically divisive investigation.

Manafort actively conferred with his lawyers during the jury selection process, writing and passing notes. Manafort's wife, Kathleen, was sitting behind him in the courtroom.

More news: There are ‘consequences’ for illegal border crossing, Trump says

Like this: