Prosecutors: Paul Manafort believed he was above the law

Casey GreeneAug 02, 2018

Manafort is the only American charged by Mueller to opt for a trial.

U.S. President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort on Tuesday will become the first person to go to trial after being ensnared in Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe of Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Manafort is charged with helping to produce and approve false tax returns from 2010 through 2014 - one count for each year.

"This is the way that they required it to be done", Zehnle said, arguing why oligarchs paid Manafort through secret foreign accounts.

"Not tax, not banking law", said Uzo Asonye, a member of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's prosecution team.

Prosecutors are expected to argue that Manafort's lavish spending on suits, homes and luxury items did not match the income declared on his tax returns and that he misled lenders when he borrowed tens of millions of dollars against NY real estate.

Nanavati had no further questions.

The charges against Manafort largely pre-date his five months of work for the Trump campaign, some of them as campaign chairman.

That was not the only place Manafort used this type of purchase mechanism, he also used wire transfers from foreign accounts at the House of Bijian in Beverly Hills. They say he instead took advantage by "lining his own pockets". Gates pleaded guilty earlier this year and agreed to cooperate with investigators.

The judge has warned prosecutors not to inject Russian matters into the case, and on Wednesday morning instructed them not to use the word "oligarch" when describing some of the people connected to the case.

That's a "very common defense in white-collar cases", Cotter said.

The trial is expected to last several weeks.

Matthew Mikuska, a special agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, described on Wednesday how agents approached Manafort's tony condominium last summer, knocking three times before ultimately gaining entrance to the "large, luxury unit" using a key.

Devine was also asked about Konstantin Kilimnik, a Russian-Ukranian political consultant who he described as a translator for Manafort. Rabin said he hand't.

Manafort is accused of financial crimes in connection with political lobbying work her performed in Ukraine.

A contentious moment came when prosecutors tried to introduce photos of construction and certificates of electrical compliance at the Manforts' South Hampton home.

Manafort's attorney Thomas Zenhle contended in the defense's opening statement that his client never meant to deceive US authorities about his income or his foreign bank accounts. The indictment says he and associate Rick Gates moved money from Ukraine through foreign bank accounts to hide it from the Internal Revenue Service.

The U.S. attorneys need to "elicit some testimony" about each piece of evidence, Ellis said.

Before jury selection got underway, Ellis said he did not plan to offer decisions on Tuesday about all of the documents that Manafort's team wants to keep out of the trial.

But as multiple media have noted, including Law&Crime's Matt Naham, the most-reported story of the day was Ellis' tense exchanges with prosecutors-almost all of which focused on the aforementioned demand not to drone on about Manafort's wealth and spending.

But Zehnle said there was no evidence that Manafort ever meant to deceive the IRS.

Attorneys on both sides were also told by the judge to "reign in their facial expressions".

Trump has repeatedly denounced the special counsel's investigation as a politically motivated "witch hunt" and denied there was any collusion with Moscow to defeat Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

"It's inappropriate", he said.

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