Paul Manafort Earned $60 Million as a Consultant in Ukraine, Says Mueller

Mueller is investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election, including potential coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia.

It's a significant milestone for the probe, which began exactly two years ago as an Federal Bureau of Investigation counterintelligence inquiry into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. Witnesses have been told to avoid any mention of President Trump or anything related to his 2016 campaign. Three Russian companies have also been charged.

Paul Manafort, 69, who served as the campaign chairman during the summer of 2016, has been charged with leading a money-laundering conspiracy that allegedly funnelled $30 million from pro-Russia political groups in Ukraine through a labyrinth of offshore accounts.

President Trump's former campaign manager Paul Manafort departs U.S. District Court after a motions hearing in Alexandria, Virginia, U.S., May 4, 2018. He was in the hot seat when Mr Trump eventually won the Republican nomination, and organised the Republican convention in July 2016. Manafort left Trump's campaign soon afterwards. But he was ensnared in the Russian Federation investigation previous year after Mueller began examining ties between Trump campaign staff and Russian Federation. Earlier this month, the judge denied a bid by Manafort to move the case out of Alexandria. Judge T.S. Ellis III of the United States District Court, presiding over the Virginia case, wrote in June that "it is plausible, indeed ultimately persuasive here, to argue that the investigation and prosecution has some relevance to the election which occurred months if not years after the alleged misconduct".

A lawyer for Paul Manafort says the former Trump campaign chairman never meant to deceive US authorities about his income or his foreign bank accounts.

Manafort is accused of failing to report tens of millions of dollars in Ukrainian political consulting fees and using that money to fund a lavish lifestyle.

Rudy Giuliani, the president's personal lawyer, has indicated that Mr Trump could pardon Mr Manafort should he be found guilty.

More news: Trump Says Cohen Tape Proves 'Your Favorite President' Did Nothing Wrong

Mr Trump has expressed sympathy for Mr Manafort since the charges were laid, calling him a "nice guy". And it will unfold at a delicate time for the president as Mueller's team presses for an interview and as Trump escalates his attacks on an investigation he calls a "witch hunt". "They've gone back 12 years to find things about somebody, and I don't think it's right", Trump said.

Manafort lived an "extravagant lifestyle" fueled by millions of dollars in "secret income" that he earned from his lobbying in Ukraine, said Uzo Asonye, a prosecutor working on the case with special counsel Robert Mueller's team.

Of the four former Trump aides ensnared in the probe, Manafort is the only one to go to trial. If Manafort is convicted, it could hurt Trump's claims. The evidence will also demonstrate that he was paid through foreign accounts, they said.

Two Democratic consultants who worked with Manafort in Ukraine, Tad Devine and Daniel Rabin, are set to testify against him. Three other aides, including Manafort's longtime business partner Gates, have already pleaded guilty and are cooperating with Mueller's probe.

"You don't really care about Mr Manafort's bank fraud", Judge TS Ellis said.

Manafort remained defiant, vowing to fight the charges.

Mueller's team has estimated it could take eight to 10 days to present its case to the jury, suggesting the trial may last at least three weeks.

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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