Former Trump Campaign Chair Heads to Trial

Mueller testifies before Congress in 2013

The charges all came about through the special counsel investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 United States presidential election, led by former FBI chief Robert Mueller.

A large number of the witnesses are executives at banks that lent Manafort money, the accounting firm that did his taxes and others involved in financial dealings who could be asked to corroborate documentary evidence showing the alleged bank and tax fraud at the heart of the case.

Manafort was in charge of Trump's campaign when the NY real estate developer accepted the party's presidential nomination at the Republican National Convention in 2016.

At the center of all this will be another Trump campaign aide, Rick Gates, who spent years working for Manafort in Ukraine and is also accused of helping him falsify paperwork used to obtain the bank loans. Gates pleaded guilty in February and has been cooperating in the Mueller probe.

In recent days, prosecutors have submitted a list of hundreds of exhibits they plan to introduce at trial, including financial documents and photographs of luxury cars and real estate properties Manafort bought with his Ukrainian income.

"Mueller only has to secure one conviction on one count to put Manafort away for as much as a decade", he said.

Five witnesses have been granted immunity from prosecution to testify against Manafort. The pool of jurors will face questions from both sides and U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III as they try to weed out potential prejudice in what has become a highly publicized and politically divisive investigation. That ruling came after Ellis had read the unredacted U.S. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein memo appointing Mueller to take over the Russian Federation investigation. Gates, who worked alongside Manafort as a political consultant, was indicted along with Manafort in October 2017. Last month, Mueller's team disclosed in a court filing what it said was a $10 million (7.61 million pounds) loan to Manafort from Oleg Deripaska, a magnate with close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Of the four former Trump aides ensnared in the probe, Manafort is the only one to go to trial.

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.

Trump reacted to Manafort's jailing in June by describing it as "very unfair".

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