Jury Picked for Trial of Ex-Trump Campaign Chairman Manafort

Manafort trial to shed light on Mueller probe evidence

U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis made several jokes during the jury selection process, including about the quality of the lunches jurors will be provided.

He made clear that undermining the credibility of Rick Gates, his former business associate and the government's star witness, is central to the defense strategy.

While Gates and others, including former national security advisor Michael Flynn, have pleaded guilty, Manafort has refused to strike a deal and has insisted on having his day in court. Opening statements were expected later in the afternoon.

The trial of President Donald Trump's onetime campaign chairman will open this week with tales of lavish spending, secret shell companies and millions of dollars of Ukrainian money flowing through offshore bank accounts and into the political consultant's pocket. 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".

But Uzo Asonye, an attorney with the special counsel's office, told jurors that Manafort considered himself above the law, and resorted to bank fraud when his overseas income couldn't support his lifestyle.

Trump and his lawyers have repeatedly sought to play down Manafort's connection to the president, yet the trial won't be entirely without references to the campaign.

The indictment was brought by special counsel Robert Mueller, the former Federal Bureau of Investigation director who is looking into Russian meddling in the presidential election, but the charges are not connected to Manafort's time as Trump's campaign chairman.

By midday, a jury of six women and six men, with four alternates, was in place.

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The opening statements were delivered not long after the jury was selected and sworn in on Tuesday.

Mr Manafort took over as chairman of the Trump campaign in May 2016 and aimed to present a more thoughtful candidate, who stuck to scripts instead of ad-libbing in campaign rallies.

Prosecutors preparing witnesses for the upcoming trial of President Donald Trump's one-time campaign chairman Paul J. Manafort are advising them to avoid mentioning Trump's name, ABC News has learned.

At jury selection earlier Tuesday, the pool faced questions from both sides and the judge as they tried to weed out potential prejudice in what has become a highly publicized and politically divisive investigation.

Paul Manafort made more than $60 million consulting for a Russia-backed political party in Ukraine, according to prosecutors investigating Russian interference in the 2016 us presidential election.

Mr. Manafort sat with his lawyers on Tuesday, with his wife behind him. He was dressed in a suit, not jail attire. "They are more anxious about protecting the trial from having a mistrial or having it overturned on appeal than provoking a hold-out person over Trump", Wu explained.

Court papers allege that he "generated tens of millions of dollars in income" from his work in Ukraine and "engaged in a scheme to hide income from United States authorities".

Uzo Asonye, one of the prosecutors in special counsel Robert Mueller's Russian Federation probe, made the comment as part of the prosecution's opening statement as the trial of Manafort got underway in a Virginia federal court. The Trump administration has insisted that the charges against Manafort have nothing to do with the campaign.

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