Manafort Drops Appeal of Civil Case Against Mueller

Paul Manafort trial offers glimpse into what Robert Mueller actually has in his investigation

The charges against Manafort largely predate the five months he worked on the Trump team in 2016, some of them as campaign chairman.

Paul Manafort, who served as President Trump's campaign chairman from May to August of 2016, is the first person to go to trial in a case handled by prosecutors working with special counsel Robert S. Mueller III as he probes Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

But the broader implications are unmistakable.

But the trial will give the public its most detailed glimpse of evidence gathered by special prosecutor Robert Mueller. It will feature testimony about the business dealings and foreign ties of a defendant Trump entrusted to run his campaign during a critical stretch in 2016, including during the Republican convention.

Outside the courthouse, a handful of protesters displayed a life-sized puppet of 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 Manafort's mug shot.

If convicted on all 18 counts, Manafort could receive 305 years in prison. One of those companies has pleaded not guilty and is fighting the allegations in federal court in Washington. "Obviously, that's very risky for him".

"What happened here is this involves political consulting work that Manafort and other people, his partner Richard Gates who pleaded guilty in [Robert] Mueller's investigation, this is conduct they were involved in going back to around 2004 and forward to about 2014, and a little bit beyond", McCarthy told Fox News' "America's Newsroom."

A list of 30 witnesses submitted by prosecutors includes luxury rug dealers, clothiers, real estate agents and others who would be expected to describe how Manafort spent money.

In recent months, prosecutors in Mueller's office have produced detailed indictments charging at least Russian 25 individuals and three Russian companies with crimes related to election interference, including hacking into the emails of the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign, money laundering and stealing US citizen's identities.

Prosecutors claim Manafort collected more than $60 million from his consulting work in Ukraine but hid most of to avoid paying taxes.

Jurors are expected to see photographs of his Mercedes-Benz and of his Hampton property putting green and swimming pool. But numerous businessmen and politicians they said he worked with have deep ties to Russia and to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Manafort's defense strategy is still unknown.

Prosecutor Greg Andres reassured the judge that "there will be no pictures of scantily clad women, period", nor photographs of Russian flags. Zehnle told jurors that Manafort "rendered a valuable service to our system of government" because of his involvement in multiple presidential campaigns.

Mr Mueller's team has estimated it could take eight to 10 days to present its case to the jury, suggesting the trial may last at least three weeks. The administration job never materialized. But that isn't a focus of this trial.

Mueller was appointed by the U.S. Justice Department's No. 2 official past year to take over an FBI investigation into Russia's role in the 2016 presidential election and whether there was unlawful co-ordination between Trump's campaign and Moscow.

Ellis rejected that argument despite having initially questioned the special counsel's motives for bringing the case.

The trial is the first to arise from the yearlong investigation into Russian election meddling and possible connections to the Trump campaign.

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

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