Paul Manafort Earned $60 Million as a Consultant in Ukraine, Says Mueller

TPM Illustration

TPM Illustration

The first trial of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russian Federation probe begins on Tuesday with Paul Manafort, a former chairman of U.S. President Donald Trump's campaign, facing charges that he hid tens of millions of dollars earned in Ukraine in offshore accounts and defrauded banks for loans.

What's likely to be missing: answers about whether the Trump campaign co-ordinated with the Kremlin during the 2016 presidential election, or really any mention of Russian Federation at all.

"Accordingly, to prove that Manafort earned that much income, the government must be able to show the extent of the work that he performed for Ukraine". Jon Brain reports from Washington.

Mueller has released a list of 35 potential witnesses he could call to the stand, including Gates, who is now a key co-operating witness in Mueller's investigation.

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At the center of all this will be another Trump campaign aide, Rick Gates, who spent years working for Manafort in Ukraine and is also accused of helping him falsify paperwork used to obtain the bank loans. The evidence will also demonstrate that he was paid through foreign accounts, they said.

Trump has vacillated between showing sympathy for Manafort and trying to distance himself.

He is scheduled to go on trial in the USA capital in September on separate charges brought by Mueller of conspiracy, money laundering and failing to register as an agent of a foreign government. He has denied all charges against him. He was originally hired to secure votes from delegates at the Republican National Convention but was promoted to campaign chairman after Mr. Trump fired Corey Lewandowski in June. He pleaded not guilty, and through a spokesman said, "This fight is just beginning".

"Hearing the voice of so many Americans who felt unrepresented by our government, Paul helped to define Donald Trump's core beliefs and, along with other remarkably talented individuals, they achieved what is believed to be one of the greatest victories in the annals of any presidential campaign", the defense fund site said.

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The trial is expected to drag on for at least three weeks, with jury selection for the case beginning on Tuesday. The charges stem from Manafort's activities from 2006-2017. The work that Manafort did in the US on behalf of Yanukovych, the government of Ukraine, and Yanukovych's Party of Regions is at the heart of the special counsel's indictment.

Turley said Manafort may be "playing a pardon strategy". A grand jury in D.C. had indicted Manafort on new charges - of alleged witness tampering - for contacting people who could testify in the cases against him.

Trump reacted to Manafort's jailing in June by describing it as "very unfair". "Didn't know Manafort was the head of the Mob".

T.S. Ellis, the judge overseeing the case, has called a hearing for Tuesday at 9 a.m. (1300 GMT) on whether that Ukraine-related evidence can be included.

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The charges largely predate the five months Mr Manafort worked on the Trump team in 2016, some of them as campaign chairman. Legal experts say Manafort can be indicted in state court for numerous same crimes for which he's been charged by the special counsel. Prosecutors plan to present evidence that a chairman of one of the banks allowed Manafort to file inaccurate loan information in exchange for a job on the campaign and the promise of a job in the Trump administration.

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