Paul Manafort on Tuesday will become the first of President Donald Trump's former aides to go on trial, accused of bank and tax fraud by federal investigators probing Russian meddling in the 2016 us presidential election.
Manafort has pleaded not guilty.
U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis, who's hearing the case, has previously questioned how Manafort's fraud charges relate to Mueller's investigation into purported Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
Instead, Judge Ellis directed USA marshals to move Manafort to the detention center in Alexandria, near the courthouse.
The trial is expected to last about three weeks.
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The luxurious lifestyle was funded by Manafort's political consulting for the pro-Russian Ukrainian political party of Viktor Yanukovych, who was deposed as Ukraine's president in 2014. There are 35 potential witnesses, many of them bankers and accountants expected to verify documents and speak to Manafort's alleged intent to violate the law. Mueller's original mandate was to investigate not only potential collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian Federation, but also any other crimes arising from the probe.
While prosecutors are not expected to address the question of possible collusion between Trump and Russia, Manafort's case is widely viewed as a test to the legitimacy of Mueller's ongoing probe, which Trump has dismissed as a "witch hunt". Three other aides, including Manafort's longtime business partner Gates, have already pleaded guilty and are cooperating with Mueller's 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.
Jonathan Turley, a professor of law at George Washington University, said the odds are stacked heavily against the former heavyweight political operative.
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They argue that the U.S. government failed to get approval for the settlement from the Defense Department or Congress, and thus broke a federal rule.
Manafort's defense countered that the true culprit in the case is not Manafort, but Gates. "To quote gamblers in Las Vegas, he has to run the table".
Manafort is the only American charged by Mueller to opt for a trial.
FILE PHOTO: Former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort departs from U.S. District Court in Washington, U.S., February 28, 2018.
"They're going to be seeing a guy who spent half a million dollars just on landscaping", Turley said. Prosecutors said Tuesday that Manafort hid 30 foreign bank accounts from United States authorities. Prosecutors say Manafort made $60 million from his work.
"If he cooperates with Mueller, a pardon is going to be substantially reduced in likelihood", he said.
Manafort's bail was revoked in June while he was on house arrest, after prosecutors accused him of tampering with witnesses.
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