Prosecutors Respond to Manafort Objections to Trial Evidence

WASHINGTON (CN) – Prosecutors with special counsel Robert Mueller’s office pushed a federal judge Friday to ignore ex-Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort’s objections to evidence they say will prove he knew about foreign agent registration requirements.

Manafort had recently objected to the special counsel introducing the evidence at his trial in September, saying it would unfairly prejudice him.

But prosecutor Andrew Weissmann said the evidence, which pertains to lobbying work Manafort did in the 1980s for Saudi Arabia, is not intended to establish wrongdoing at that time but rather to highlight Manafort’s knowledge of the requirements of the Foreign Agent Registration Act.

That knowledge could serve as a key piece of evidence for the government, which has charged Manafort for conspiracy, money laundering, failure to register as a foreign agent, making false statements and obstruction of justice.

The charges stem from unregistered foreign lobbying work he did on behalf of a pro-Russia Ukrainian political party from 2006 to 2015, from which he garnered tens of millions in income prosecutors say he hid from American officials.

On July 13, Manafort’s attorney Richard Westling said the evidence Mueller wants to introduce would “confuse the issues to be tried and mislead the jury.”

But Weissmann said Friday the evidence will show that Manafort’s prior  interactions with the Justice Department “put him on notice” of foreign agent filing requirements.

Manafort’s lobbying work for Saudi Arabia had drawn the attention of the Department of Justice at the time, prompting an inspection of his Foreign Agent Registration Act filings in 1986. After discovering that he failed to register 18 items, the department sent Manafort a letter explaining that he needed to register them.

Weissmann said the evidence will show that Manafort’s failure to register his foreign lobbying work for Ukraine was not a mistake because of his prior knowledge.

Manafort is facing a separate set of charges in Virginia for bank and tax fraud related to his Ukrainian lobbying work. That trial is set to begin on Wednesday.

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