Manafort himself directed millions of dollars

Credit Susan Walsh  AP

President Trump defended his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort on Wednesday, while distancing Mr. Manafort from special counsel Robert Mueller's Russian Federation investigation.

The trial is the first courtroom test for the special counsel, who was tasked a year ago with investigating Russia's efforts to sway the 2016 election and to determine whether the Trump campaign was involved.

The testimony about spending came as President Trump publicly came to Manafort's defense, tweeting that prosecutors were treating him unfairly and attacking the investigation by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III that led to the charges against Manafort.

But the broader implications are unmistakable.

He faces two criminal trials, the first in Alexandria, Virginia, and another later in Washington. 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.

Gates was expected to be the government's star witness at trial, but prosecutor Uzo Asonye said he could not say with certainty whether Gates would or would not testify.

Manafort has pleaded not guilty. "Obviously, that's very risky for him".

Manafort was bill $8,000 for one "grey tweed fine sport jacket", 12,000 for a pinstripe suit and $14,00 for a "navy blue 3/4 quilted silk jacket", according to an invoice offered into evidence. The remaining 31 individuals charged have either reached plea agreements, including ex-White House national security adviser Michael Flynn, or are Russians seen as unlikely to enter an American courtroom.

Jurors are expected to see photographs of his Mercedes-Benz and of his Hampton property putting green and swimming pool.

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More than 70 years after his death, Capone remains an nearly mythical figure. Prosecutors charge Manafort made millions of unreported income while working as a political consultant for the Ukraine government, and when those funds dried up in 2014, began lying to banks in order to get loans that would keep funding his lavish lifestyle.

Central to the government's case are allegations that Manafort funneled more than $60 million in proceeds from his Ukrainian political consulting through offshore accounts, including in Cyprus, and hid a "significant" portion of it from the IRS. "It's a lot, and Paul Manafort trusted that Rick Gates was keeping track of it", Zehnle said.

Prosecutor Greg Andres reassured the judge that "there will be no pictures of scantily clad women, period", nor photographs of Russian flags.

The trial, however, is not about Russian Federation, or any such conspiracy, focused instead on the personal and business finances of Manafort, Trump's onetime campaign chairman.

Manafort, who has been jailed for almost two months, wore a black suit and appeared fully engaged in his defense, whispering with his attorneys during jury selection and scribbling notes as the prosecution began its opening statement.

Manafort is accused of orchestrating a multimillion-dollar conspiracy to evade USA tax and banking laws. What to know from day one of Manafort trial MORE's lavish spending. So far, Manafort is the lone person to stand trial as a result of the ongoing probe, even though the charges of bank fraud and tax evasion are unrelated to possible collusion.

Mr. Trump also accused the Justice Department of withholding information on Mr. Manafort's investigation. The administration job never materialized. The charges against Manafort largely pre-date his five months of work for the Trump campaign, some of them as campaign chairman. He noted that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who appointed Mueller, had explicitly authorized Mueller to investigate Manafort's business dealings.

Numerous witnesses work for vendors who over the years provided luxury goods and services to the Manafort family, including designer suits, Land Rovers and home improvements.

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