Published: Thu, August 02, 2018
Global | By Craig Ferguson

Paul Manafort trial: Former Trump aide 'put himself above the law'

Paul Manafort trial: Former Trump aide 'put himself above the law'

On the second day of Manafort's trial, the first stemming from Special Counsel Robert Mueller's 14-month investigation of Russia's role in the 2016 USA election, the judge also tried to rein in prosecutors in their description of Manafort's lavish lifestyle. Associated Press reporter Eric Tucker says Manafort seemed calm and prepared for the court proceedings. Much of the income was spent on luxury homes, sports cars and a wardrobe which included a $15,000 (£11,430) jacket made from ostrich, prosecutors said.

Prosecutor Uzo Asonye, a member of Mueller's team, said of Manafort: "A man in this courtroom believed the law did not apply to him".

He said Trump could help the public understand what is at stake in Mueller's investigation, which both Trump and Caputo have called a "witch hunt" aimed at ending his presidency.

Outside the courthouse, a handful of protesters displayed a life-sized puppet of Mr 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 Mr Manafort's mug shot. Zehnle said Manafort, earning millions as a political consultant helping officials in other parts of the world, relied on Gates and others - including a professional accounting firm - to keep watch over the money.

"Money's coming in fast". "That's what Rick Gates was being paid to do".

The special counsel has enlisted as many as 35 witnesses to testify against Manafort.

Gates pleaded guilty in February and agreed to cooperate with the Mueller investigation on "all matters" they deem relevant.

Yet the trial also contains pitfalls for Trump. It's as if they're thinking "Why do we have to put up with this idiot judge?" he said. Butina, 29, appeared to have started their financial entanglement, wiring Erickson $8,000 from her Alfa Bank account in 2014, but from June 2016 to March 2017, Erickson wired $27,000 back into Butina's account, BuzzFeed reports.

Asonye said Manafort set up more than 30 bank accounts in overseas countries and funnelled millions of dollars into them in order to bankroll an extravagant lifestyle.

A "high percentage" of that was funnelled into offshore accounts and shell companies to evade taxes, Mr Mueller said in court documents.

The attorneys argued Gates was the one who transferred all the money into accounts, including consulting fees collected from Ukrainian political figures.

The trial is expected to take about three weeks.

Kevin Downing, Mr. Manafort's attorney, argued in June that solitary confinement was making it hard for his client to prepare for trial. "We do not dispute that".

Instead, the judge gave broad directions to the prosecutors: Try to reduce the number of Ukrainian documents given to the jury, use testimony to add context and don't refer to individual documents in opening statements.

Mueller has indicted a total of 32 people so far in connection with his probe into whether any members of Trump's election campaign colluded with Russian Federation to help get the NY real estate tycoon into the White House.

Indeed, Manafort's suit spending was a topic broached by Mueller's prosecutors.

"There was No Collusion (except by Crooked Hillary and the Democrats)!"

Trump has denied that his campaign colluded with Russian Federation, and on Tuesday tried to make the case publicly that collusion would not be a crime anyway.

A jury of six men and six women was selected earlier Tuesday, along with four alternate jurors.

John Cohen, a former acting undersecretary at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and current ABC News consultant, said prosecutors may be responding to the defense strategy by minimizing the role Gates would play as a key informant in their case.

The allegations came during opening statements Tuesday in the Paul Manafort trial.

He's the only American charged in the Mueller probe to opt for a trial. He's also charged with bank fraud conspiracy for attempting to get a separate $5.5 million loan for a brownstone in Brooklyn, prosecutors say. Manafort then asked the federal appeals court in Washington, DC, to review her decision.

Like this: