Manafort trial to shed light on Mueller probe evidence

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On the eve of Tuesday's case, Mr Manafort abandoned his attempt to challenge Mr Mueller in civil court.

After a rocky road to cooperating with special counsel Robert Mueller's Russian Federation probe, Gates is expected to provide critical testimony against Manafort, whose own attorney has called Gates the "heart" of the government's case. That fact could compel someone previously or now close to the president who knows of any illegal activity to come clean or act as a co-operating witness if they have information relevant to Mueller's Russian Federation probe. While scrutiny of the Ukraine dealings pushed the one-time campaign chairman out, Gates stayed on, serving as a liaison to the Republican National Committee, while earning the reputation of a competent executor of the Trump team's day-to-day operations.

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.

His lawyers are seeking to exclude evidence at trial that details Mr Manafort's political lobbying work in Ukraine, saying it would be "irrelevant, prejudicial and unnecessarily time-consuming". DMI was created in 2011 as a result of Manafort's lobbying work in Ukraine.

Manafort worked with a few controversial world leaders, including former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych.

However, prosecutors say - the focus will be on Manfort's links with Ukraine, not on collusion with Russian Federation. Yanukovych was elected in 2010 but fled the country for Russian Federation in 2014 in the wake of pro-Western protests.

Manafort is accused of 32 counts of financial offences, including bank fraud and tax evasion, tied to his alleged laundering of more than $30 million.

Their paths crossed again in 2006, when Manafort hired Gates - under his spin-off firm Davis Manafort- as he was launching on a lucrative consulting endeavor in Ukraine.

Turley also said he believes "jurors are not likely to identify or empathize with Paul Manafort", whose lavish spending and lifestyle is outlined in court documents. "There is going to be exhibits showing what he used the money for - to buy various properties and luxury goods". Gates allegedly converted a PDF of a financial record to a Word document so that Manafort could edit his listed income, according to the indictment.

Legal experts said Manafort may be hoping to be found not guilty - or holding out hopes of a presidential pardon.

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That consulting work was often funded by oligarchs, Gates told the Federal Bureau of Investigation in a 2014 interview quoted in a Mueller search warrant.

Paul Manafort, President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman, leaves the federal courthouse in Washington, D.C., February 14, 2018. He served on Trump's inaugural committee, then for a political group supportive of the President's agenda, and finally as an aide Trump's close friend, Tom Barrack, with whom Gates was spotted lurking around the White House through last summer.

Presiding over the case is 78-year-old Judge T.S. Ellis, appointed to the bench by President Ronald Reagan.

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.

Here are some of the key players in the case against Manafort, 69, a veteran Washington political operative who briefly managed Trump's campaign from May to August 2016. Prosecutors will also argue that Manafort fraudulently obtained millions more in bank loans, including during his time on the campaign.

Soon after, Mueller's office brought new charges against Manafort, adding counts of obstruction of justice and conspiracy to his case in the District of Columbia.

Mr. Trump has referred to the judge's skepticism as "really something special, I hear". He has denied all charges against him.

Manafort, meanwhile, is represented by attorneys Kevin Downing, Jay Rohit Nanavati, Thomas E. Zehnle, and Richard Westling.

The trial, in Alexandria, Virginia, is expected to last at least three weeks.

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

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