Prosecutors advise witnesses in Manafort trial: Avoid the T-word


Chamber says helping all sectors hit by tariffs would cost B Giuliani rejects purported Cohen claim of second Trump Tower meeting MORE was in court Tuesday for the opening day of his criminal trial on bank and fraud charges brought by special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russian Federation probe MORE.

"My guess is you will see O.J. -type frenzy at this court event", said Michael Caputo, a former Trump aide and longtime Manafort associate, referring to the 1995 O.J. Simpson murder trial. Trump denies any collusion with Russian Federation, and on Tuesday tried to make the case publicly that collusion would not be a crime anyway.

Manafort's defense team has argued any mention of Trump could be seized on by jurors who have an unfavorable view of the president. There are 35 potential witnesses, many of them bankers and accountants expected to verify documents and speak to Manafort's alleged intent to violate the law.

Prosecutors have said they don't plan to offer evidence related to the Russian Federation case, and that references to Manafort's association with the Trump campaign will be limited. The Trump administration has insisted that the charges against Manafort have nothing to do with the campaign. The president seized on those words and said Judge Ellis "is really something special, I hear from many standpoints". But in February, Gates agreed to cooperate with Mueller's investigation and pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy and lying to investigators. Manafort is accused of concealing tens of millions of dollars in income from the IRS and fraudulently obtaining millions more in bank loans.

Given the strength of the evidence, however, some legal experts have suggested Manafort may be banking on an eventual pardon from Trump, who has called his former campaign chairman a "nice guy" who has been treated unfairly.

Opening arguments are slated to begin Tuesday afternoon following the final selection of jury members. He is expected to testify against Manafort in the trial.

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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.

The trial is a major test for Mueller's team, which is facing a fresh onslaught of attacks from President Donald Trump and Republicans, who are using lies and exaggerations to blast Mueller and his investigators as biased against the president.

As president, Trump has downplayed Manafort's role in the campaign.

"On top of that", he added, "the government will bring forth the coup de grace" with incriminating testimony by Gates, Manafort's former business partner. That trial, set in the District of Columbia, involves allegations that the longtime political consultant acted as an unregistered foreign agent for Ukrainian interests and made false statements to the US government. Previously, he tried to challenge Mueller's prosecutorial authority, a move that included filing a civil lawsuit against the Justice Department.

In Zehnle's retelling it was Gates who was the point person for Manafort's book-keepers and tax preparers. "When Mueller came in, he revived that investigation". So far, 32 people and three companies have been charged by Mr Mueller.