Details Ironed Out for Manafort Foreign-Agent Trial

WASHINGTON (CN) – Already convicted of financial felonies, former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort is unsure whether to mount a defense at his second trial next month.

Paul Manafort leaves the federal courthouse in Washington on Feb. 14, 2018. The trial of President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman will open this week with tales of lavish spending on properties and clothing and allegations that the political consultant laundered money through offshore bank accounts. What’s likely to be missing: answers about whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia during the 2016 presidential election. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)

On top of the 10 to 12 days that the prosecution estimates its case will take to present, a joint pretrial statement filed late Friday says Manafort’s attorneys estimate needing three to four days, if they present a defense.

The government’s witness list is set to include two FBI agents specializing in forensic accounting and tracing, and an IRS agent trained in taxation and accounting.

This same filing also sketches out plans for a “voluminous” number of exhibits, as well as “summary schedules of voluminous bank, tax, and other records.”

Meantime the government’s exhibit list discusses a large number of emails that appear to be related to Manafort’s Ukraine lobbying work.

According to the pretrial statement, Manafort opposes all of them.

“At this time, defendant objects to all of the government’s proposed exhibits as to authenticity and admissibility,” the pretrial statement says.

The parties have also not yet set out any issues to which the government can stipulate as fact.

Set to kick off a month after a Virginia jury found Manafort guilty of eight counts, the upcoming trial in Washington, D.C., will focus on allegations that Manafort failed to register as a foreign agent before lobbying American officials on behalf of the pro-Kremlin Party of Regions and former Ukrainian President Victor Yanukovych.

This lobbying activity occurred from 2006 through 2015, with the Party of Regions retaining two of Manafort’s companies, Davis Manafort Partners Inc. and then DMP International LLC.

Manafort has said his lobbying work was focused in Europe, not the United States. Prosecutors allege that Manafort generated tens of millions in income that he concealed from U.S. authorities, which he was required to report, and which he used “to enjoy a lavish lifestyle in the United States,” according to the superseding indictment.

The government says Manafort funneled more than $75 million through offshore accounts and laundered more than $30 million with the help of his former associate and accused co-conspirator Rick Gates.

Having already pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy and one count of lying to the FBI, Gates emerged as the government’s star witness at the Virginia trial.

U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson said Monday morning she will let Manafort waive all court appearances ahead of trial, once she receives a signed waiver.

In court Tuesday, Manafort’s attorneys will appear without him for a pretrial hearing to discuss the jury questionnaire, along with other evidence the government intends to introduce at trial.

Prosecutors say some of that evidence will show that Manafort skirted Ukrainian public-procurement law by arranging for an unnamed law firm to be retained at bargain-basement costs, in part to help prepare a report on the trial of former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko.

The government might also introduce evidence concerning a series of loans that were structured among entities in Cyrpus under Manafort’s control intended to conceal lobbying funds as income.

Other evidence the government is considering includes tax returns from 2008 through 2014 where Manafort allegedly tried to pass off a personal residence in New York City as a business property.

Manafort’s Washington, D.C., trial is set to begin Sept. 17. Earlier this month in Virginia, a federal jury convicted Manafort on tax and bank fraud related to his Ukrainian lobbying work. The jury was deadlocked on 10 of the government’s 18 charges.

%d bloggers like this: