Zehnle specifically attacked Gates and called him "the prosecution's star witness". "It's a lot, and Paul Manafort trusted that Rick Gates was keeping track of it", Zehnle said. Gates, who cut a plea deal with Mueller earlier this year, is expected to testify against his former mentor. Ellis made it clear that he didn't want an excess amount of time spent on going through exhibits to belabor the two basic points the government was expected to prove.
Prosecutors say President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman orchestrated a multimillion-dollar conspiracy to evade USA tax and banking laws, leaving behind a trail of lies as he lived a lavish lifestyle. Ellis said the trial would move immediately to opening statements after a lunch recess.
Uzo Asonye, one of the prosecutors in special counsel Robert Mueller's Russian Federation probe, made the comment as part of the prosecution's opening statement as the trial of Manafort got underway in a Virginia federal court.
I'll say it loud for the people in the back: THIS IS A TAX EVASION AND BANK FRAUD TRIAL. It is expected to last several weeks.
During the first day, USA prosecutors depicted Manafort as a tax evader who hid millions of dollars he earned from his political work for former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, in the first trial arising from the investigation into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election.
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By midday, a jury of six women and six men, with four alternates, was in place.
Mueller has submitted more than 500 pieces of evidence, including tax filings and mortgage statements, and pictures of Manafort's expensive watches and homes. The nine bank fraud and conspiracy charges alone carry maximum sentences of 30 years each, and Ellis noted in April that Manafort could be facing the rest of his life behind bars if convicted.
The trial which began yesterday is the first to stem from a special counsel inquiry into whether the Trump campaign colluded with the Kremlin in 2016.
Mueller's team said it would not present evidence at the trial in the Washington suburb of Alexandria, Virginia, about possible campaign collusion with Russian Federation, potentially saving it for a second Manafort trial in Washington in September.
The charges against Manafort largely pre-date his five months of work for the Trump campaign, some of them as campaign chairman.
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In releasing the jurors on Tuesday, Judge Ellis warned them against watching the news or talking to family about the case, even though there was sure to be "intense curiosity" about it.
The trial will afford the public its first glimpse of a defense that so far has focused less on the substance of the allegations than on Mueller's authority to bring the case in the first place.
Prosecutors are seeking to provide details of Manafort's work for a pro-Russian political party in Ukraine, raising the possibility that new information about his Russian connections could emerge. He was dressed in a suit, not jail attire. Manafort is accused of concealing tens of millions of dollars in income from the IRS and fraudulently obtaining millions more in bank loans.
Trump repeatedly has sought to discredit Mueller's investigation, which is also looking into whether Trump's campaign coordinated with Moscow and whether the president has unlawfully sought to obstruct the probe.
Day three of Manafort's trial will see the testimony of two more vendors and Manafort's bookkeepers and tax accountants.
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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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