Manafort trial to shed light on Mueller probe evidence

Protesters were present as Manafort's trial on bank and tax fraud charges formally gets under way in Alexandria, VA, in the first trial brought by the Mueller probe.

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. Trump denies any collusion with Russian Federation, and on Tuesday tried to make the case publicly that collusion would not be a crime anyway.

That task comes as the president and his lawyer-spokesperson, Rudy Giuliani, have intensified their attempts to undermine the Mueller investigation in the court of public opinion and as the USA president continues to waffle on whether he'll sit for a private interview with prosecutors. 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.

His lawyers are seeking to exclude evidence at trial that details Manafort's political lobbying work in Ukraine, saying it would be "irrelevant, prejudicial and unnecessarily time-consuming".

Not long after that, President Donald Trump cited Ellis' comments as proof that the Mueller probe was a witch hunt.

The presiding judge has said that Mr Manafort...

When Yanukovych fled to Russia, Manafort and his business partner Richard Gates experienced a severe cash crunch, and the men allegedly began leveraging real estate to take out new loans, providing false or incomplete profit and loss statements and other data to banks. Manafort is accused of financial crimes, including bank fraud and tax evasion, relating to his lobbying work for the government of Ukraine. Having his former campaign chairman, who helped run Trump's campaign at a critical point of the election, in the news so consistently shines a negative light on him.

On the eve of Tuesday's case, Mr Manafort abandoned his attempt to challenge Mr Mueller in civil court.

While the trial may touch on Manafort's communications during the campaign with his partners in the former Soviet bloc, the trial is not expected to focus on campaign ties to Russian Federation.

But once Mueller's Russian Federation investigation ends, Giuliani told Reuters: "He has a right to consider it".

Unlike his former colleague Rick Gates, Mr Manafort has not co-operated with the special counsel investigation.

Legal experts said Manafort may be hoping to be found not guilty - or holding out hopes of a presidential pardon. 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.

A conviction would give momentum to Mr Mueller, who has indicted or secured guilty pleas from 32 people and three companies since the investigation started 14 months ago.

Gates, former national security adviser Michael Flynn and George Papadopoulos, a foreign policy adviser on the campaign, all have pleaded guilty.

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