The bank fraud and tax evasion trial for President Trump’s former campaign chair Paul Manafort began Tuesday morning in a federal court in Alexandria, VA.
Mueller’s prosecutors and Manafort’s legal team both came out swinging with blistering opening statements.
Paul Manafort’s lawyer set the tone early Tuesday morning when he told CBS reporter, Paula Reid: No deal. Manafort attorney Kevin Downing tells me “No chance!” his client will cooperate with Special Counsel in order to avoid trial today.
JUST IN: No deal. Manafort attorney Kevin Downing tells me “No chance!” his client will cooperate with Special Counsel in order to avoid trial today. @CBSNews
— Paula Reid (@PaulaReidCBS) July 31, 2018
Mueller’s prosecutors skewered Manafort in their opening statement, accusing Manafort of being a “shrewd” liar and making millions of dollars off of his consulting work in Ukraine then hiding the money in foreign bank accounts.
Prosecutors accused former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort of being a “shrewd” liar who orchestrated a global scheme to avoid paying taxes on millions of dollars, in opening statements that kicked off Manafort’s trial on Tuesday.Manafort lived an “extravagant lifestyle” fueled by millions of dollars in “secret income” that he earned from his lobbying in Ukraine, said Uzo Asonye, a prosecutor working on the case with special counsel Robert Mueller’s team. Manafort became wealthy from the “cash spigot” that came from working for his “golden goose in Ukraine,” former President Viktor Yanukovych, Asonye said.“All of these charges boil down to one simple issue: that Paul Manafort lied,” Asonye said. “Manafort placed himself and his money over the law.”
Manafort’s lawyers shot back at Mueller’s prosecutors by blaming Manafort’s associate Rick Gates, who previously pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate with Mueller.
Manafort’s lawyer Zehnle went for it and specifically attacked Rick Gates and called him “the prosecution’s star witness.”
“This is the way that they required it to be done,” Zehnle said, arguing why oligarchs paid Manafort through secret foreign accounts. Prosecutors said Tuesday that Manafort hid 30 foreign bank accounts from US authorities.Of Manafort’s associates, like longtime deputy Rick Gates, Zehnle said, “he trusted them to speak with one another and make sure things were done right.” Gates pleaded guilty earlier this year to participating in Manafort’s alleged financial conspiracy and is slated to testify against him.
Mueller’s hack lawyers are focusing on Manafort’s lavish lifestyle.
At one point Judge Ellis scolded Mueller’s prosecutor, Asonye, who told jurors that Manafort owned several homes, acquired real estate in New York and Virginia, bought expensive cars and watches, and even got a $15,000 jacket “made from an ostrich.”
Interesting moment occurred in government opening statement as prosecutor rattled off Manafort’s life of luxury. Judge interrupted: “It isn’t a crime to have a lot of money and be profligate in your spending.”
— Eric Tucker (@etuckerAP) July 31, 2018
As he started delivering his opening statement, Asonye earned a near-immediate rebuke from Judge T.S. Ellis, who told him not to tell jurors that “the evidence will show” that the allegations against Manafort are true.During his preliminary instructions to the jury, Ellis reminded told jurors that “you and you alone are the sole judges to the facts in this case.”
12 jurors were selected Tuesday morning. There are 6 male jurors and 6 female jurors, 8 of whom are white.
Five witnesses were granted immunity by Judge T.S. Ellis last week; their names were subsequently released to the public.
Manafort faces a maximum of 305 years in prison if he is convicted on all charges.
The Podesta Group, the now defunct lobbying firm ran by John Podesta’s brother, Tony Podesta, was lobbying a pro-Kremlin Ukrainian political front yet was never issued an indictment from Mueller even though they failed to register as a foreign agent.
Tony Podesta was given immunity in the DC case where Manafort is being charged for failing to file a FARA form for his Ukrainian lobbying efforts. This is further proof Manafort is being hunted down like an animal by Mueller purely because of his association with Donald Trump.
This story is developing…