Prosecutors portray Trump's ex-campaign chief as a liar and tax cheat

Manafort trial to shed light on Mueller probe evidence

While the main areas of Mueller's investigation are Russia's actions during the 2016 presidential election and any attempts by Trump to obstruct justice, none of those topics are expected to come up in Manafort's trial.

Mueller's team said it would not present evidence at the trial in the Washington suburb of Alexandria, Virginia, about possible campaign collusion with Russian Federation, potentially saving it for a second Manafort trial in Washington in September.

He said Trump could help the public understand what is at stake in Mueller's investigation, which both Trump and Caputo have called a "witch hunt" aimed at ending his presidency.

Manafort faces 18 charges alleging a series of financial crimes in this case, including filing false income tax returns, bank fraud conspiracy, failing to report foreign bank accounts and bank fraud.

Manafort's consulting work for pro-Russian politicians in Ukraine that earned him $60 million also took the spotlight in testimony in federal court in Alexandria, Virginia, outside Washington.

President Trump has wavered between showing sympathy for Mr Manafort and trying to distance himself.

Manafort, the lone American charged by Mueller who has opted to stand trial instead of cooperate with prosecutors, was described by his defense lawyer as a hugely successful global political consultant who left the details of his finances to others.

On the second day of Manafort's trial, the first stemming from Special Counsel Robert Mueller's 14-month investigation of Russia's role in the 2016 US election, the judge also tried to rein in prosecutors in their description of Manafort's lavish lifestyle.

"Why didn't government tell me that he was under investigation", Trump tweeted Wednesday.

Manafort trial to shed light on Mueller probe evidence
Manafort Drops Appeal of Civil Case Against Mueller

In his opening statement Tuesday, Manafort attorney Thomas Zehnle made the defense team's strategy loud and clear: Gates, they will argue, was the "point person" for Manafort's finances. Failure to obtain a conviction for Manafort would give Trump and his allies more ammunition in their continued attacks on the probe.

Mueller's team says Manafort's position in the Trump campaign is relevant to some of the bank fraud charges.

A jury was seated by the afternoon. Manafort's wife, Kathleen, was sitting behind him in the courtroom. He later clarified to say that that uncertainty applies to any witness, not just Gates, as the prosecution team assesses the pace of the trial.

But Manafort's connection to the Trump campaign, which he managed for five months in 2016, has filled the courtroom with reporters and the internet with readers.

Ellis had given the pool of 65 potential jurors an overview of the charges against Manafort, though he reminded the group that the indictment "is not evidence of any guilt whatsoever".

Asonye also told Ellis that prosecutors expect to rest their case next week, noting that they are "ahead of schedule".

"My guess is you will see OJ-type frenzy at this court event", said Michael Caputo, a former Trump aide and longtime Manafort associate, referring to the 1995 OJ Simpson murder case. He said the term was being used to suggest Manafort was paid by criminals though there was not evidence to prove it.

If you've been reading Law&Crime lately, you would know that we warned Manafort's attorneys not to get cute with this judge. Kilimnik, who prosecutors have said has ties to Russian intelligence, was indicted last month along with Manafort on charges of witness tampering.

Gates, who cut a plea deal with Mueller earlier this year, is also expected to play a key role in Manafort's second trial, scheduled for September.

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