Paul Manafort believed he was above the law: United States prosecutor
- Author: Leroy Wright Aug 02, 2018,
Aug 02, 2018, 6:37
US President Donald Trump has called on Attorney-General Jeff Sessions to end a federal investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and whether there was any cooperation by his campaign with Moscow.
The outcome of the trial, which is expected to last three weeks, could affect the momentum of Mr. Mueller's 14-month-long investigation into interference in the 2016 election, even though the charges cite activities that predate the Trump campaign and don't relate to any potential allegations of collusion with Russian Federation by Trump associates. Some Democrats accused Trump of obstruction of justice.
The case will likely last two or three weeks in Virginia court.
According to Mueller's filing, "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", The Hill states. "You really don't care about Mr. Manafort's bank fraud ..."
A defense lawyer painted a drastically different portrait of Manafort and made clear he will go after one of the government's star witnesses, former Manafort associate Rick Gates. U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III will try to weed out potential prejudice in what has become a highly publicized and politically divisive investigation.
The allegations came during opening statements Tuesday in the Paul Manafort trial. A judge said Gates faces between 57 and 71 months in prison for his offenses, though his sentence depends on the extent to which he cooperates with investigators.
Prosecutors plan to produce almost three dozen witnesses during the trial, including Manafort's former associate Richard Gates, who is cooperating with the government after pleading guilty to lesser charges in February. "Although these kinds of high-pressure prosecutorial tactics are neither uncommon nor illegal, they are distasteful". Prosecutors, though, are recommending 8 to 10 years.
"An oligarch is just a despotic power exercised by a privileged few", Ellis said.
The trial of Donald Trump's former campaign chair, Paul Manafort, has begun in Virginia.
A prosecutor showed Mikuska and the jury a series of invoices, including for home improvement work, that was seized by the Federal Bureau of Investigation during the August 2017 raid.
"Manafort is not on trial for leading a lavish lifestyle", he said.
"Of course, there will be no evidence about that", the judge added, and said that oligarchs are merely rich people.
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. Mikuska said agents arrived at around 6 a.m. and knocked three times before entering the condominium with a key. It also comes as Trump and his lawyers have dialed up the intensity in their attacks on Mueller.
He provided no evidence that the team led by Mueller, a Republican appointed by Republicans, is biased against him.
Russian Federation has denied interfering in the election. US intelligence agencies concluded that Moscow directed the hacking of political groups and disinformation on social media to undermine Trump's presidential election opponent, Democrat Hillary Clinton, and aid Trump's candidacy. He was Manafort's top client until he was removed from power and fled to Russian Federation in 2014.
Given the strength of the evidence, however, some legal experts have suggested Manafort may be banking on an eventual pardon from Trump, who has called his former campaign chairman a "nice guy" who has been treated unfairly. But when the special counsel hit the two men with a second indictment in February, Gates pleaded guilty to two lesser counts in exchange for cooperation.