Paul Manafort, ex-Trump campaign chief, to begin trial

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His longtime business partner Rick Gates faces numerous same charges.

The presiding judge has said that Mr Manafort...

Jury selection begins Tuesday in a federal court in Alexandria, Virginia. While many in the courtroom laughed, including Manafort's lawyers, the defendant himself did not.

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

Prosecutors also accuse him of lying to US banks to obtain real estate loans in a bid to maintain a lavish lifestyle after his client, former pro-Russia Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych, fell from power in 2014 and the money stopped.

Prosecutors claim that Mr Manafort, who ran the USA president's election campaign for five months, hid more than $30 million of that sum in offshore accounts to evade taxes. "What you really care about is what information Mr. Manafort could give you that would reflect on Mr. Trump or lead to his prosecution or impeachment". The indictment says he and associate Rick Gates moved money from Ukraine through foreign bank accounts to hide it from the Internal Revenue Service. Manafort is accused of concealing tens of millions of dollars in income from the IRS and fraudulently obtaining millions more in bank loans.

President Donald Trump and Manafort have both said there was no collusion.

In addition to jury selection, Tuesday morning included a hearing regarding a motion to block Ukraine-related documents from being introduced as evidence at the trial. Last month, Mueller's team disclosed in a court filing what it said was a $10 million loan to Manafort from Oleg Deripaska, a magnate with close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

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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.

"The depth of the charges against Paul Manafort is such that at some point, the best decision for him will be to try to cut a deal", said Lisa Griffin, a former federal prosecutor who is now a law professor at Duke University.

On the other hand, if he is convicted, it will "demonstrate to the public that President Trump's claims that the whole investigation is a witch hunt is not an accurate accusation", Dressler said.

President Trump denies any collusion with Russian Federation, and today tried to make the case publicly that collusion would not be a crime anyway.

The special counsel has also enlisted as many as 35 witnesses to testify against Manafort.

Prosecutors on Monday said they need to use the exhibits in question to prove that Manafort earned that much income, which they contend he failed to report on his tax returns.

The Virginia trial will be followed by a second one in Washington in September in which Mr Manafort is charged with money laundering, failing to register as a foreign agent and witness tampering.

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