Witnesses in Paul Manafort trial instructed to avoid mentioning Trump during testimony

Manafort trial poses first courtroom test for Mueller

Manafort trial poses first courtroom test for Mueller

The trial is the first to arise from the yearlong investigation into Russian election meddling and possible connections to the Trump campaign.

The trial against Manafort, focused on tax and bank fraud, is set to begin juror selection this Tuesday.

"A man in this courtroom believed the law did not apply to him".

The trial in a Virginia federal court represents the first test of Mr Mueller's ability to win a conviction of a former aide of President Trump.

The charges against Manafort are being prosecuted by Justice Department Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who uncovered the alleged wrongdoing during his probe of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and suspected collusion with Trump's campaign.

Manafort arrived at the courthouse Tuesday morning wearing a black suit, with his hair neatly parted. The defense had anxious voters in Northern Virginia leaned more Democratic than in the western part of the state in 2016, but the Reagan-appointed judge said that was not the standard to assess whether a defendant could receive a fair trial.

Asonye told jurors the evidence would show Manafort hid "tens of millions of overseas income" to avoid paying taxes.

Most tax and bank fraud cases are built on stacks of bland business documents and Internal Revenue Service paperwork - hardly the stuff of worldwide intrigue.

Defense attorney Thomas Zehnle said in his opening statement that Manafort trusted others to keep track of the millions of dollars he was earning from his Ukrainian political work.

Last week, Ellis granted Mueller's request to give immunity to five witnesses expected to testify at Manafort's trial, but denied prosecutors' request to protect their identities. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

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.

The unsuccessful civil lawsuit sought, among other things, to prevent Mueller from bringing additional charges in the future, including potential charges relating to Manafort's work on the Trump campaign.

Mr Manafort has pleaded not guilty to those charges as well.

Manafort actively conferred with his lawyers during the jury selection process, writing and passing notes. And it will unfold at a delicate time for the president as Mueller's team presses for an interview and as Trump escalates his attacks on an investigation he calls a "witch hunt".

Manafort, the former chairman of the Donald Trump presidential campaign, was jailed in mid-June on suspicions of witness tampering. National security lawyer Bradley Moss discusses the latest developments. At one point, his defence lawyers sued Mueller and the Justice Department, saying they had overstepped their bounds by bringing a prosecution untethered to the core questions of Mueller's investigation - whether Russian Federation worked with the Trump campaign to tip the election. Trump has tried to distance himself from Manafort, saying the former chairman "worked with me, what, for 49 days or something?"

One potential witness was even told to be cautious when speaking of Manafort's NY residence - he owns a condominium in Trump Tower in midtown Manhattan, sources told ABC News. Mr Trump tweeted early on Tuesday. The added evidence also appears to include documents related to bank accounts in Cyprus. The second trial, scheduled for September in the District of Columbia, involves allegations that he acted as an unregistered foreign agent for Ukrainian interests.

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