Paul Manafort Earned $60 Million as a Consultant in Ukraine, Says Mueller

Posted August 01, 2018

The special counsel inquiry into Russian efforts to meddle in the U.S. election faces its first courtroom test today at the trial of a former Trump campaign chief accused of bank and tax fraud.

The case is being prosecuted by the special counsel investigating Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election.

The Government intends to show that Mr Manafort funnelled more than $US60 million ($81 million) in proceeds from his Ukrainian political consulting through offshore accounts and hid a "significant" portion of it from tax collection authorities.

Prosecutors want to show memos, campaign ad scripts, political rally plans and other work Manafort did in an effort to prove that he made over $60million off the Party of Regions and its leader, Viktor Yanukovych, between 2005 and 2014.

Prosecutors are expected to argue that Mr Manafort's lavish spending on suits, homes and luxury items did not match the income declared on his tax returns and that he misled lenders when he borrowed tens of millions of dollars against NY real estate. The defense had anxious voters in Northern Virginia leaned more Democratic than in the western part of the state in 2016, but the Reagan-appointed judge said that was not the standard to assess whether a defendant could receive a fair trial.

The tax and bank fraud trial represents the first test of Mueller's ability to win a conviction of a former Trump aide. A jury of six men and six women was ultimately selected, along with four alternate jurors.

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But prosecutors' star witness is likely to be Gates, who worked closely with Manafort in Ukraine and later followed him into Trump's campaign as deputy chairman.

Manafort, who was wearing a dark blue suit in place of his jail outfit, was watching in the courtroom nearby as jurors were handed the proper forms.

Gates, you may recall, pleaded guilty to conspiracy and lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation and then saw charges dropped by Mueller.

The trial is not expected to reveal many new details about Manafort's time as the chairman of the Trump campaign, and prosecutors have said they are not planning to introduce any evidence suggesting coordination between the campaign and Russia's influence operations. Zehnle said Manafort was not responsible for how or why those foreign bank accounts were set up, but was required by the Ukrainian backers paying his consulting bills that he be payed this way.

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

Mr Manafort has filed a motion to have details oft hat work excluded from trial. Manafort has pleaded not guilty to those charges, as well.

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Setting a fast pace for a complicated trial, Judge T.S. Ellis III of the U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Virginia, repeatedly urged lawyers for both sides to speed up their decision-making so the jury could be seated.

The trial, starting with selection of a 12-member jury, coincides with growing speculation that Trump's former personal lawyer Michael Cohen may cooperate with federal investigators against the president.

Manafort actively conferred with his lawyers during the jury selection process, writing and passing notes.

Mr Manafort has pleaded not guilty to those charges as well.

Manafort's bail was revoked in June while he was on house arrest, after prosecutors accused him of tampering with witnesses. A separate Washington, D.C. trial is scheduled to begin in September.

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