Manafort Drops Appeal of Civil Case Against Mueller

Manafort trial poses first courtroom test for Mueller

Mueller was appointed by the U.S. Justice Department's No. 2 official a year ago to take over an FBI investigation into Russia's role in the 2016 presidential election and whether there was unlawful coordination between Trump's campaign and Moscow.

Manafort's defense team has filed a flurry of motions - to suppress evidence gathered from a Virginia storage unit, to challenge the mandate of the special counsel and to delay the trial - almost all of which it has lost so far.

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 us presidential election.

Prosecutors say the word "Russia" isn't likely to come up in this trial, which will center on Manafort's Ukrainian consulting work and only briefly touch on his involvement with the president's campaign.

Manafort is facing charges of bank fraud and tax fraud as part of special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation.

"My guess is you will see OJ-type frenzy at this court event", said Michael Caputo, a former Trump aide and longtime Manafort associate, referring to the 1995 OJ Simpson murder case.

Manafort was present during the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting that was set up after a Kremlin-linked lawyer offered up dirt on Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton to members of the Trump campaign.

Manafort faces charges in two different courts and could spend decades in prison if convicted.

To avoid paying hefty taxes, prosecutors say, they set up secret shell companies and offshore accounts to funnel their Ukrainian proceeds disguised as "loans" to USA accounts to buy multimillion-dollar properties and luxury goods.

Given the strength of the evidence, however, some legal experts have suggested Mr Manafort may be banking on an eventual pardon from Mr Trump, who has called his former campaign chairman a "nice guy" who has been treated unfairly.

Gates has since pleaded guilty and agreed to help prosecutors with their case, as one of the government's star witnesses.

"They're going to be seeing a guy who spent half a million dollars just on landscaping", Turley said.

Prosecutors have lined up 35 witnesses and more than 500 pieces of evidence they say will show how Manafort earned more than $60 million from his Ukrainian work and then concealed a "significant percentage" of that money from the IRS.

Winning a conviction against the first person to go on trial in Mueller's probe would strengthen the former Federal Bureau of Investigation director's resolve and his team's credibility as President Donald Trump assails his inquiry as a politically motivated "witch hunt", legal experts say. Manafort has pleaded not guilty to those charges, as well.

Prosecutors working with Mueller dropped almost two dozen criminal fraud charges against Gates, who reached a plea deal.

Before starting the jury selection process, Judge Ellis commented briefly on a request from Manafort to exclude from the trial almost 500 pages of the prosecutors' evidence related to his Ukraine work.

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