President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, is scheduled to go on trial Tuesday after being accused of bank and tax fraud by federal investigators who have been probing Russia's cyber warfare efforts during the 2016 U.S presidential election.
Manafort, who ran Trump's campaign during three months in 2016 and attended a June 2016 meeting with Russians who offered damaging information on Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, faces 18 counts, including nine bank fraud and conspiracy charges, and has become a focus for Special Counsel Robert Muller who has been running the probe.
Prosecutors say Manafort's expenditures on suits, homes and other luxury items did not match reported income on his tax returns. They say Trump's former campaign chairman intentionally misled lenders when borrowing tens of millions of dollars against real estate he owned in New York.
Court filings indicate that prosecutors intend to prove that Manafort earned more than $60 million while lobbying for the former pro-Russia Ukrainian government and did not report a "significant percentage" of that.
The charges being brought against Manafort mostly pre-date his time as Trump's campaign chairman. More than 500 pieces of evidence have been submitted by Mueller's team, including tax filings, mortgage statements and photos of Manafort's watches and homes.
One of the main witnesses against Manafort will be his ex-assistant, Rick Gates, who is said to have knowledge of Manafort's offshore accounts and dealings in Ukraine. Prosecutors say they expect the trial to take around three weeks. The former Trump aide faces up to 300 years in prison if he is found guilty on all counts.
Over the last year, the Special Counsel's team has indicted or secured guilty pleas from 32 people, including 12 Russian intelligence officers who were said to be involved in the hacking of the DNC servers in June 2016. Trump's former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos, and Gates, have all pleaded guilty.
Trump has denied any collusion with Russia, and has said he accepts Russian President Vladimir Putin's assurances that his country did not interfere with the 2016 election over U.S. intelligence agencies' who have concluded they did.
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