Paul Manafort orchestrated a multimillion-dollar conspiracy to evade US tax and banking laws, leaving behind a trail of lies as he lived a lavish lifestyle, prosecutors said as they laid out their case against the former Trump campaign chairman Tuesday.
Chad Day and Eric Tucker, The Associated Press •.
It's the first of two trials Manafort will go through.
On the eve of Tuesday's case, Mr Manafort abandoned his attempt to challenge Mr Mueller in civil court.
Court papers allege that he "generated tens of millions of dollars in income" from his work in Ukraine and "engaged in a scheme to hide income from United States authorities". Three other aides, including Manafort's longtime business partner Rick Gates, have already pleaded guilty and are co-operating with Mueller's probe.
Judge Ellis was not messing around.
"Money's coming in fast".
"Paul Manafort shouldn't be here", he added. "That's what Rick Gates was being paid to do".
"He may testify in this case, he may not", said prosecutor Uzo Asonye, a day after the defense made clear in opening statements to jurors that its strategy centered on discrediting Gates as an untruthful embezzler. Gates also worked on the Trump campaign.
Mr Manafort, who has spent the last month in jail after his bail was revoked, entered Alexandria's district court in a smart black suit and flashed a quick smile to the waiting reporters as he arrived.
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Instead, the trial will centre on Manafort's Ukrainian consulting work and only briefly touch on his involvement with the president's campaign.
Mr Trump came to Mr Manafort's defence, tweeting: "Who was treated worse, Alfonse Capone, legendary mob boss, killer and Public Enemy Number One, or Paul Manafort, political operative & Reagan/Dole darling, now serving solitary confinement - although convicted of nothing?"
It's expected to be rich with tales of lavish spending, secret shell companies and millions of dollars of Ukrainian money flowing through offshore bank accounts and into Manafort's pocket. The indictment says he and associate Rick Gates moved money from Ukraine through foreign bank accounts to hide it from the Internal Revenue Service.
One is that he earned more than $60 million in consulting fees in Ukraine between 2010 and 2014 but evaded US taxes on most of the income by setting up secret shell companies for the objective of disguising the money as "loans".
Rudy Giuliani, the president's personal lawyer, has indicated that Mr Trump could pardon Mr Manafort should he be found guilty.
Outside the courthouse, a handful of protesters displayed a life-sized puppet of Trump and held signs saying "Trump won't do time for you", "It's Mueller time", and "I like your new suit" alongside a photo of Manafort's mug shot.
"There was No Collusion (except by Crooked Hillary and the Democrats)!"
The trial is expected to last several weeks.
U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III says oligarch has a "pejorative" meaning and using it isn't relevant to the bank fraud and tax evasion charges against Manafort.
Six men and six women, along with four alternate jurors, were chosen on Tuesday. It involves allegations that he acted as an unregistered foreign agent for Ukrainian interests and made false statements to the USA government.
The trial is a major test for Mueller's team, which is facing a fresh onslaught of attacks from President Donald Trump and Republicans, who are using lies and exaggerations to blast Mueller and his investigators as biased against the president. But Butina also appeared to have had a broader mission, The Daily Beast reports, detailing an encounter in which Butina urged legendary USA financial executive Maurice "Hank" Greenberg to pour more money into the secretly insolvent Russian bank Investtorgbank, leaving observers "shocked and disturbed" at her audacity.