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Paul Manafort trial: jury selection under way

Paul Manafort trial: jury selection under way

What's likely to be missing: answers about whether the Trump campaign co-ordinated with the Kremlin during the 2016 presidential election, or really any mention of Russian Federation at all.

Prosecutors accuse Manafort, 69, of working as an unregistered lobbyist for pro-Russian politicians in Ukraine, laundering more than $30 million in income and deceiving banks to secure millions of dollars more in loans.

Prosecutors have lined up 35 witnesses and more than 500 pieces of evidence they say will show how Manafort earned more than $60 million (U.S.) from his Ukrainian work and then concealed a "significant percentage" of that money from the IRS.

Manafort, the former chairman of the Donald Trump presidential campaign, was jailed in mid-June on suspicions of witness tampering.

Manafort had been under federal investigation since 2014 over suspicion of illegal lobbying and financial improprieties.

Mueller was appointed by the U.S. Justice Department's No. 2 official past year to take over an FBI investigation into Russia's role in the 2016 presidential election and whether there was unlawful co-ordination between Trump's campaign and Moscow.

Mr Manafort has pleaded not guilty to those charges as well. While many in the courtroom laughed, including Manafort's lawyers, the defendant himself did not. "It's unlikely you're going to persuade me the special counsel has unlimited powers to do anything he or she wants".

"Manafort has remained loyal", he said.

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If convicted on all 18 counts, Manafort could receive 305 years in prison.

"It seems to me we're seeing deeper ties that Manafort has had financially with his business deals in the Ukraine and with Russian Federation", said Shanlon Wu, a former lawyer for Manafort associate Rick Gates, who pleaded guilty in February and is aiding Mueller's probe.

But Manafort doesn't appear to have "valuable enough information to make these charges go away altogether", Griffin said.

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

Manafort ran Trump's campaign for five months in the spring of 2016. A legal defense fund set up to help cover his mounting bills praises his "lifetime of service" to "no less than four United States presidents."

The 18 counts facing Manafort include allegedly laundering $30 million from work on behalf of pro-Russian Ukrainian politicians and hiding money overseas to avoid paying US taxes. He has denied all charges against him. "The choice there is serving time in a NY state prison like Rikers Island, as opposed to a plush federal prison".

The tax and bank fraud trial represents the first test of Mueller's ability to win a conviction of a former Trump aide.

Responding to allegations that Manafort took the campaign job with Trump in 2016 to pay off debts he owed to a Russian oligarch, the defense fund website asserts that he was "motivated exclusively by his appreciation and ardor for our country". An acquittal would support efforts by Trump and his allies to portray the probe as a "witch hunt".

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