Manafort Drops Appeal of Civil Case Against Mueller

01 August, 2018, 21:07 | Author: Edward Snyder
  • Paul Manafort has been charged with money laundering and bank fraud among other violations.					Alexandria Sheriff's Office via Getty Images

Paul Manafort, U.S. President Donald Trump's former campaign chair, opened more than 30 bank accounts in three foreign countries to "receive and hide" his income from Ukraine, a federal prosecutor told jurors on Tuesday.

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.

But the broader implications are unmistakable.

Or will special counsel Robert Mueller be handed a defeat in his team's first trial since his appointment more than a year ago?

FILE PHOTO: Former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort departs from U.S. District Court in Washington, U.S., February 28, 2018.

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".

He warned jurors that Gates could not be trusted and was the type of witness who would say anything he could to save himself from a lengthy prison sentence and a crippling financial penalty. Three other aides, including Manafort's longtime business partner Gates, have already pleaded guilty and are cooperating with Mueller's probe.

Manafort is also charged in federal court in Washington with undisclosed foreign lobbying and money laundering.

But Uzo Asonye, an attorney with the special counsel's office, told jurors that Manafort considered himself above the law, and resorted to bank fraud when his overseas income couldn't support his lifestyle.

Prosecutors also accuse him of lying to US banks to obtain real estate loans in a bid to maintain a lavish lifestyle after his client, former pro-Russia Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, fell from power in 2014 and the money stopped.




Lawyers have tangled over how much jurors will hear of his overseas political work, particularly about his ties to Russian Federation and other wealthy political figures.

Asonye said Manafort didn't just lie to the Internal Revenue Service. "He worked for me for a very short time".

Special Agent Matthew Mikuska told jurors on Wednesday that the Federal Bureau of Investigation knocked multiple times on the door of Manafort's condo before entering with a key after no one answered. In fact, prosecutors said last week they don't expect the word "Russia" to be mentioned at all. And they won't learn that Manafort's co-defendant in the Washington case is a business associate named Konstantin Kilimnik, who lives in Russia and who US authorities assert has connections to Russian intelligence.

Manafort is now standing federal trial for tax evasion and bank fraud.

The government's first witness following opening statements was Tad Devine, who recalled his work with Manafort in Ukraine to help pro-Russian political figure Viktor Yanukovych. The administration job never materialized. But that isn't a focus of this trial.

He attended the Trump Tower meeting during which a Russian lawyer promised dirt on Hillary Clinton, but Russia's interference in the 2016 election is not expected to be brought up in this trial.

But Sessions stepped aside past year from overseeing Mueller's inquiry, and it's Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein who's taken over that duty.

Mueller's original mandate was to investigate not only potential collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian Federation, but also any other crimes arising from the probe.

Mr. Asonye attempted to backtrack, telling Judge Ellis that the evidence presented will determine if Mr. Gates' testifies.

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