Manafort Drops Appeal of Civil Case Against Mueller

Saul Bowman
August 2, 2018

Paul Manafort will appear Tuesday in federal court in Virginia for the first trial arising from special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation.

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.

The focus on Manafort's personal dealings, rather than Russian Federation, aren't surprising considering the Special Counsel indictment didn't mention the Kremlin, the 2016 presidential election or collusion a single time. Prosecutors are not expected to address the question of collusion, but Manafort's case is widely viewed as a test to the legitimacy of Mueller's probe, which Trump has called a "witch hunt".

If there was anything prosecutors at Paul Manafort's trial were trying to impress on the jury Wednesday, it's that he liked to spend money wired from his foreign bank accounts on fancy things - items that could not conceivably be considered business expenses and thus tax deductible.

"A man in this courtroom believed the law did not apply to him". "Obviously, that's very risky for him".

Gates and Manafort worked closely together for years, including in Ukraine, and they were indicted at the same time by Mueller.

In their opening remarks, prosecutors said Manafort opened more than 30 bank accounts outside the United States to attempt to hide the $60 million he earned in lobbying in Ukraine.

Jurors are expected to see photographs of his Mercedes-Benz and of his Hampton property putting green and swimming pool. Testimony is likely to begin Tuesday afternoon. Prosecutors will also argue that Manafort fraudulently obtained millions more in bank loans, including during his time on the campaign.

Manafort's attorney Thomas Zehnle has warned jurors that Gates cannot be trusted and is the type of witness who would say anything he could to save himself from a lengthy prison sentence and a crippling financial penalty.

Legal experts said Manafort may be hoping to be found not guilty - or holding out hopes of a presidential pardon. Why didn't government tell me that he was under investigation. Zehnle told jurors that Manafort "rendered a valuable service to our system of government" because of his involvement in multiple presidential campaigns.

Manafort has been in jail since last month when a judge revoked his house arrest over allegations that he and an associate tried to tamper with witnesses in the case. 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 USA authorities assert has connections to Russian intelligence.

Trump also complained this morning that the "government" had not informed him Manafort was "under investigation" when his campaign hired the guy.

Mr. Trump also accused the Justice Department of withholding information on Mr. Manafort's investigation. The administration job never materialized.

The trial, however, is not about Russian Federation, or any such conspiracy, focused instead on the personal and business finances of Manafort, Trump's onetime campaign chairman.

The outcome of the trial, which is expected to last three weeks, could affect the momentum of Mr. Mueller's 14-month-long investigation into interference in the 2016 election, even though the charges cite activities that predate the Trump campaign and don't relate to any potential allegations of collusion with Russian Federation by Trump associates.

The trial is the first arising from special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into potential ties between the Trump presidential campaign and Russian Federation.

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