Manafort's lawyers blame Gates in bank fraud trial

Washington DC. Manafort and his former business partner Richard Gates both pleaded not guilty last year to a 12-charge indict

That "secret income" was used to pay for personal expenses such as a $21,000 watch, a $15,000 jacket made of ostrich and more than $6 million worth of real estate paid for in cash, Asonye said.

President Trump offered support yesterday to his former campaign chief Paul Manafort, who is on trial for alleged financial wrongdoing, comparing his plight to Al Capone. And there's always the possibility that Manafort could take a plea deal during the trial if his defense falls apart, opting for a lighter sentence in exchange of telling Mueller's team anything he may know about possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian Federation. It opened amid unresolved questions about whether Trump associates coordinated with the Kremlin to tip the election in the president's favor.

Joshua Dressler, a law professor at Ohio State University, said the evidence against Mr Manafort (69) appears strong, but that he drew a favourable judge in the 78-year old TS Ellis, who is known to be tough on prosecutors, and said the politically charged climate increases the chances of a hung jury.

Gates, a longtime Manafort deputy who also worked in a senior role in the Trump campaign, had initially been charged alongside Manafort, but in February announced he would plead guilty to charges of conspiracy against the US and lying to federal authorities.

On Monday, prosecutors said in court filings that they meant to prove Manafort earned more than $60 million lobbying for the former pro-Russia Ukrainian government and failed to report "a significant percentage" of that.

Zehnle made it clear that attacking the credibility of Gates, who pleaded guilty in February and agreed to cooperate with Mueller's investigation, would be a central plank of the defense.

Nine potential jurors indicated they have connections to the Justice Department, including four who said they were current or former federal employees.

"Money's coming in fast".

"We're primarily here because of one man - Rick Gates", Zehnle said. "That's what Rick Gates was being paid to do".




Mr Manafort, who has been jailed for almost two months, wore a black suit and appeared fully engaged in his defence, whispering with his lawyers during jury selection and scribbling notes as the prosecution began its opening statement.

The government's first witness on Tuesday was Tad Devine, a political consultant who has done work for many prominent Democrats, Sen.

In opening statements for the defense, Manafort's defense attorney Thomas Zehnle laid out the bare bones of his side of the case, shifting much of the blame to the Ukrainian oligarchs Manafort worked for and the business associates he worked with.

A "high percentage" of that was funnelled into offshore accounts and shell companies to evade taxes, Mr Mueller said in court documents. Asonye said the evidence would show he lied to the Internal Revenue Service.

But Zehnle disputed prosecutors' account that Manafort was trying to hide his earnings by storing money in bank accounts in Cyprus.

Maximillian Katzman, former manager of Alan Couture in New York City, testified in Manafort's Virginia trial that the former Trump aide was his only customer to wire money from overseas bank accounts to make purchases at the store, according to The Washington Post.

Manafort's lawyers presented a very different picture. The way Trump sees it, Manafort's prosecution is the product of a "rigged witch hunt" by Mueller's team to discredit his 2016 victory over Hillary Clinton. Manafort has filed a motion to have details of that work excluded from trial.

Pres. Trump speaks at an event in Tampa, Fla on Tuesday, July 31, 2018, in Tampa, Fla.

The trial is expected to drag on for at least three weeks, with jury selection for the case beginning on Tuesday.

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