Judge in Manafort trial: Don't use word 'oligarchs'


A lawyer for the Mueller team was noncommittal Wednesday when Judge T.S. Ellis asked whether longtime Paul Manafort associate Rick Gates will testify in the trial.

In their opening statement on Tuesday, prosecutors said Manafort earned some $60 million in Ukraine and unlawfully failed to report a large portion of it to US tax authorities.

The case against Manafort outlined by prosecutors on Tuesday represents a new phase in Mueller's investigation into Russian election meddling - the first jury trial stemming from the probe that President Donald Trump has repeatedly attacked as a "witch hunt".

The other 31 people charged have either pleaded guilty or are Russians seen as unlikely to enter an American courtroom.

Manafort's defense team countered by pointing a finger at the prosecution's star witness - and Manafort's former deputy - Richard Gates.

Manafort attorney Thomas Zehnle at Tuesday's opening made it clear the defence plans to make attacking Gates a central element of their defence.

Mr. Gates, who oversaw some of the financial dealings of Mr. Manafort's consulting business, was expected to be a key witness for the government.

Prosecutors have said they don't plan during Manafort's fraud trial to offer evidence related to the Russian Federation case, or make many references to Manafort's association with the Trump campaign.

Ellis' comments on the second day of Manafort's trial weren't made in front of the jury.

He faces twelve different counts, all felonies, which include conspiracy against the United States, failing to register as a foreign agent, making false statements about being a foreign agent, false statements to the Department of Justice, tax fraud, bank fraud, money laundering and more.

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The Republican President, who has long complained about the criminal probe into his White House victory, said the idea that his campaign worked with Moscow was a "TOTAL HOAX" in a series of tweets aimed at undermining the integrity of special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation.

Prosecutors are seeking to provide details of Mr Manafort's work for a pro-Russian political party in Ukraine, raising the possibility that new information about his Russian connections could emerge.

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

"All of these charges boil down to one simple issue: that Paul Manafort lied", Asonye said.

"Perhaps he believes that he's done nothing wrong, and because he's done nothing wrong, he's unwilling to plead guilty to any crime whatsoever - even if it's a lesser crime", said Jimmy Gurule, a Notre Dame law professor and former federal prosecutor. A jury of six men and six women was ultimately selected, along with four alternate jurors.

The sharp words marked a dramatic opening to the trial, in keeping with the notoriously fast-moving Eastern District Court of Virginia, which lawyers often refer to as home to the "rocket docket".

It's the first of two trials Manafort will go through.

Rudy Giuliani, a lawyer for Trump, said no one facing trial should expect a pardon, but he did not rule one out.

Manafort ran Trump's campaign for five months in the spring of 2016. But Butina also appeared to have had a broader mission, The Daily Beast reports, detailing an encounter in which Butina urged legendary USA financial executive Maurice "Hank" Greenberg to pour more money into the secretly insolvent Russian bank Investtorgbank, leaving observers "shocked and disturbed" at her audacity.