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Former Trump Campaign Chair Heads to Trial

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Manafort trial to shed light on Mueller probe evidence

U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis, who's hearing the case, has previously questioned how Manafort's fraud charges relate to Mueller's investigation into purported Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Manafort's work for the pro-Russian government in Ukraine plays a central role in the allegations against him, since prosecutors say he concealed income from that work from US tax officials and allegedly laundered more than $18 million in proceeds.

The filing was made in response to Mr. Manafort's efforts to prevent jurors from seeing more than 50 trial exhibits related to his political consulting work in the Ukraine between 2005 and 2014.

Prosecutors are expected to argue that Mr 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.

"Paul Manafort traveled in circles that most people will never know and he's gotten handsomely rewarded for it", Zehnle said.

And there's always the possibility that Manafort could take a plea deal during the trial if his defense falls apart, opting for a lighter sentence in exchange of telling Mueller's team anything he may know about possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian Federation. After the swift selection of six men and six women to the jury, focuses immediately shifted to ensuing opening statements.

Prosecutors have also listed Rick Gates, Manafort's deputy on the Trump campaign and a longtime business associate, as one of the 35 potential witnesses they could call to testify during the trial.

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

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Expected to be a main witness, Gates was Manafort's right-hand man for years and has knowledge of their offshore accounts and work for Deripaska and in Ukraine.

Zehnle accused Gates of having an "evolving" story about his dealings with Manafort, and pointed out that as part of his plea agreement, he pleaded guilty to making a false statement to the prosecutors during plea negotiations.

Manafort, 69, is the first American charged in the inquiry by the special counsel, Robert Mueller, to maintain his innocence, and to force the prosecutors to prove their case at trial.

Manafort is also charged in federal court in Washington with undisclosed foreign lobbying and money laundering. And they won't learn that Manafort's co-defendant in the Washington case is a business associate named Konstantin Kilimnik, who lives in Russia and who US authorities assert has connections to Russian intelligence. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Prosecutors also charged another one of his associates, Konstantin Kilimnik, with working with Manafort to try to tamper with the potential witnesses.

The trial is expected to last about three weeks. Gates also worked as an aide on Trump's campaign.

Manafort actively conferred with his lawyers during the jury selection process, writing and passing notes. The Trump administration has insisted that the charges against Manafort have nothing to do with the campaign. He faces a second trial in September on conspiracy charges.

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