Paul Manafort trial: Former Trump aide 'put himself above the law'

Glen Norman
August 1, 2018

In court on Wednesday, prosecutor Greg Andres asked Rabin, who produced TV ads for Manafort in Ukraine, about Rick Gates, Manafort's former business partner who is expected to be a star government witness, and Manafort associate Konstantin Kilimnik.

But Uzo Asonye, an attorney with the special counsel's office, told jurors that Manafort considered himself above the law, and resorted to bank fraud when his overseas income couldn't support his lifestyle.

The trial of Donald Trump's former campaign chair, Paul Manafort, has begun in Virginia.

Gates pleaded guilty in February and agreed to cooperate with the Mueller investigation on "all matters" they deem relevant.

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

"His trust in Rick Gates was misplaced", Zehnle said, alleging that Gates had embezzled millions of dollars from Manafort.

Gates, who spent years working for Manafort in Ukraine and is also accused of helping him falsify paperwork used to obtain the bank loans, cut a plea deal with Mueller earlier this year.

Gates is also expected to play a key role in Manafort's second trial, scheduled for September. He created "bogus" loans, falsified documents and lied to his tax preparer and bookkeeper to hide the money, which he obtained from Ukrainian oligarchs through a series of shell company transfers and later from fraudulently obtained bank loans in the USA, prosecutors said.

Mueller has indicted a total of 32 people so far in connection with his probe into whether any members of Trump's election campaign colluded with Russian Federation to help get the NY real estate tycoon into the White House. Prosecutors, though, are recommending 8 to 10 years.

Trump has repeatedly denounced the special counsel's investigation as a politically motivated "witch hunt" and denied there was any collusion with Moscow to defeat Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

Pres. Trump speaks at an event in Tampa, Fla on Tuesday, July 31, 2018, in Tampa, Fla.

The defense will present evidence to show that Manafort reported $30 million in adjusted gross income between 2005 and 2015 and that his company reported an income of more than $92 million during the period, Zehnle said.

Six men and six women, along with four alternate jurors, were chosen on Tuesday. Giuliani said he and Jay Sekulow, another Trump lawyer, had told the president: "This would be a very bad thing to do now".

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

The unsuccessful civil lawsuit sought, among other things, to prevent Mueller from bringing additional charges in the future, including potential charges relating to Manafort's work on the Trump campaign.

After several hours of discussions with individual jurors, prosecutors from the special counsel's office and lawyers for Mr. Manafort rejected about 20 potential jurors. So far, 32 people and three companies have been charged by Mr Mueller.

An activist holds a picture of former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort during a protest outside the Albert V. Bryan United States Courthouse.

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