Manafort trial to begin; prosecutors have identified 500 potential exhibits and 35 witnesses
Paul Manafort/Mark Reinstein (Shutterstock.com).
President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, goes on trial Tuesday in Alexandria, Virginia, on charges of tax evasion, bank fraud and failure to report foreign bank accounts. The charges were brought by special counsel Robert Mueller.
U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III, who has been critical of the special counsel appointment, will preside, report the Associated Press, the New York Times and the Washington Post in stories here and here.
Ellis had refused to dismiss the charges last month, despite his critical views. “Although this case will continue,” he said, “those involved should be sensitive to the danger unleashed when political disagreements are transformed into partisan prosecutions.”
Ellis has rejected 37 potential jurors based on answers to a questionnaire. Voir dire begins Tuesday.
Prosecutors expect to call 35 witnesses in their attempt to prove that Manafort put more than $75 million in offshore accounts, concealed more than $30 million in income from the U.S. Treasury and lied when obtaining bank loans. Manafort was charged in connection with consulting work he did for former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych, who was supported by Russia and may have ties to a Russian intelligence service
Prosecutors have identified nearly 500 potential exhibits in the trial, including photos of pricey purchases such as homes, cars and a $21,000 titanium Bijan watch, the Post reports in a previous story. According to prosecutors, he spent $6.4 million on real estate and $7.3 million on home renovations. One home had a waterfall and another had a putting green.
According to the Times coverage, “Russia looms over the entire proceeding.” The “subtext” of the trial is whether Manafort knew of Russian efforts to influence the 2016 election and whether he will end up cooperating with Mueller, the Times reports. The article notes, however, that Manafort has shown no signs that he wants to help prosecutors.
Manafort also faces separate charges of conspiring to launder money to promote violation of the law that requires lobbyists for foreign entities to register with the U.S. government.