Former Trump campaign chairman pleads not guilty to charges

Paul Manafort pleads not guilty to tax evasion, bank fraud

President Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort pleaded not guilty Thursday to money laundering and tax evasion charges as part of special counsel Robert Mueller's Russian Federation investigation.

Manafort pleaded not guilty in a Virginia courtroom to charges ranging from bank fraud to filing false tax returns that were brought by Robert Mueller, the United States special counsel for the Russian Federation probe.

During Thursday's hearing, Manafort's attorney Kevin Downing broached the idea of an extension for the trial date with U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III.

On February 28 Manafort, 68, also pleaded not guilty in a Washington court to charges of money laundering, illegal lobbying and lying, setting up the first trial to result from Mueller's investigation. The charges against Manafort don't relate to the election, although some of the alleged crimes occurred while he ran Trump's campaign.

In one instance, Manafort allegedly dealt with an unpaid $300,000 American Express bill by telling a bank that Gates had borrowed his credit card and run up the charges, the indictment says.

Manafort last week also pleaded not guilty in a related case in Washington, District of Columbia, where he is set to go to trial September 17.

Separately Thursday, an April 4 hearing was scheduled before a federal judge in Washington in Manafort's civil lawsuit challenging Mueller's appointment as special counsel, which the government has moved to dismiss.

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He claimed the girlfriend, Cassie Harshman, broke up with him over the phone after telling him she had suffered a miscarriage. Christensen did not reply to Newsweek's request for comment by the time of publication.

The mystery man sported a full white beard, black beanie hat and sunglasses as he extended his hands upward while Manafort arrived at the Albert V. Bryan Courthouse in Virginia.

The 32-count indictment issued by the Alexandria grand jury accuses Manafort of laundering $30 million through offshore accounts, to disguise income he earned from his work in Ukraine and shield it from federal taxes.

Manafort is also accused of having altered a slew of financial statements connected to a consulting business he shared with partner Richard Gates.

Prosecutors told said in court they planned to call 20-25 witnesses and said their arguments could last up to two weeks. His former deputy, Rick Gates, is cooperating with prosecutors after pleading guilty to conspiracy.

None of the charges brought against Manafort specifically involve Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

The Justice Department responded with a 35-page brief last week, saying Manafort could not use a civil lawsuit to attack ongoing criminal proceedings.

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