Star witness 'may not' testify in Manafort trial: Prosecutors

Star witness 'may not' testify in Manafort trial: Prosecutors

Star witness 'may not' testify in Manafort trial: Prosecutors

The first trial of US Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russian Federation probe has begun with Paul Manafort, a former chairman of President Donald Trump's 2016 election campaign.

The trial is expected to last several weeks.

A star government witness will be Richard Gates, a former deputy Trump campaign chairman and former Manafort business associate. Gates pleaded guilty in February to conspiring against the United States and lying to investigators and agreed to cooperate with the investigation.

"This case is about trust because it's about Mr. Manafort placing his trust in the wrong person", Zehnle said of.

He is charged with five counts of filing false tax returns for not reporting bank accounts he held in Cyprus and other countries in a bid to hide millions of dollars in income from activities on behalf of Ukraine's former pro-Russian leader Viktor Yanukovych.

Another man brought a John Grisham novel into the courtroom.

As with earlier witnesses, the subject of Manafort's spending irritated the judge, who told prosecutors: "You have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he signed tax documents to show he knowingly didn't represent his true income".

Ellis has scolded members of Mueller's team before, asserting back in May that the team was really interested in targeting President Trump.

Trump denies any campaign collusion with Russian Federation, and on Tuesday tried to make the case publicly that collusion would not be a crime anyway.

"When a prosecutor looks into those dealings and uncovers evidence of criminal culpability", said Stanford law professor David Alan Sklansky, "it doesn't make sense to ask him to avert his eyes".

It may not be about Russian Federation, but it will be held in the shadow of the collusion controversy that's long loomed over the White House.

Trump has vacillated between showing sympathy for Manafort and trying to distance himself.

The trial heads into its second day Wednesday, a day after the jury was seated, both sides presented their opening statements and the government's first witness took the stand. A jury of six men and six women was ultimately selected, along with four alternate jurors.

Manafort, 69, was wearing a black suit, white shirt and a tie. He denied allegations that Manafort had tried to hide his earnings by storing money in bank accounts in Cyprus, saying that arrangement was not of Manafort's doing but was instead the preferred method of payment of the supporters of the pro-Russia Ukrainian political party who were paying his consulting fees. He pleaded not guilty to these allegations, and the case is scheduled to go to trial in mid-September.

He's the only American charged in the Mueller probe to opt for a trial.

Manafort is accused of failing to report tens of millions of dollars in Ukrainian political consulting fees and using that money to fund a lavish lifestyle.

Among the items recovered were invoices related to Manafort's work with Gates.

Mueller was appointed by the U.S. Justice Department's No. 2 official a year ago to take over an FBI investigation.

The accounting of suit costs aggravated U.S. District Court Judge T.S. Ellis III, who has admonished prosecutors not to belabor the details of Manafort's lavish lifestyle but to stick strictly instead to the evidence that supports the charges. For what it's worth, Manafort appears to have done far more than Capone to disrupt the global world order, including helping to prop up ghoulish Russia-backed puppets in Ukraine.

Manafort actively conferred with his lawyers during the jury selection process, writing and passing notes. Manafort's wife, Kathleen, was sitting behind him in the courtroom.

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