The trial marks the first court test for special counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating Trump campaign ties to Russian Federation and related matters, and whose team is prosecuting Manafort. But the charges are unrelated to Manafort's involvement in Trump's presidential campaign.
Trump is trying to distance himself from Manafort, who led Trump's efforts to secure the GOP presidential nomination in 2016.
Paul Manafort's financial crimes trial, the first arising from special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation, will center on his Ukrainian consulting work and only briefly touch on his involvement with the president's campaign.
Manafort's attorney Thomas Zenhle contended in the defense's opening statement that his client never meant to deceive USA authorities about his income or his foreign bank accounts.
"When a prosecutor looks into those dealings and uncovers evidence of criminal culpability", said Stanford law professor David Alan Sklansky, "it doesn't make sense to ask him to avert his eyes".
"On top of that", he added, "the government will bring forth the coup de grace" with incriminating testimony by Gates, Manafort's former business partner.
Among them is former Manafort associate Rick Gates, who in February pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy and lying to investigators.
Trump also complained this morning that the "government" had not informed him Manafort was "under investigation" when his campaign hired the guy. He has emerged as the prosecutors' star witness against Manafort.
On trial in Alexandria, Virginia, Manafort is facing charges of evading taxes on more than $60 million of income earned working for Ukrainian politicians. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of 305 years in prison. He denies the charges. That "secret income" was used to pay for personal expenses such as a $21,000 watch, a $15,000 jacket made of ostrich and more than $6 million worth of real estate paid for in cash, Asonye said.
During his preliminary instructions to the jury, Ellis reminded told jurors that "you and you alone are the sole judges to the facts in this case".
The opening statements were delivered not long after the jury was selected and sworn in on Tuesday. The 12-person jury comprises six men and six women.
"The documents establish the breadth of the work that Manafort performed, including commissioning television ads, writing speeches and carrying on campaign-related activities", read the filing, Bloomberg states.
"We're primarily here because of one man - Rick Gates", Zehnle said. The group was predominantly white, with fewer than a dozen nonwhite potential jurors. Most were comfortably middle-aged. But Gates kept his name on them "so he could keep control", he said. Two joked that they were "recovering attorneys".
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Overall, anti-fraud investigators at Wells Fargo, following a tip from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, flagged almost $300,000 in "suspicious" transactions by Butina and Erickson, saying in some cases the activity had no "apparent economic, business, or lawful objective".
Asonye said Manafort didn't just lie to the Internal Revenue Service.
Mueller's prosecutors named Gates on their list of potential witnesses ahead of Manafort's trial, indicating that he was expected to play a central role in the prosecutor's case against his former boss.
Manafort worked for the Trump campaign for five months in 2016, rising to campaign chairman.
Manafort's trial is the first arising from Mueller's investigation into potential ties between Donald Trump's presidential campaign and Russian Federation.
A judge jailed Manafort in June over allegations of witness tampering as he awaited trial.
Asonye said Manafort created "bogus" loans, falsified documents and lied to his tax preparer and bookkeeper to hide the money, which he obtained from Ukrainian oligarchs through a series of shell company transfers and later from fraudulently obtained bank loans in the U.S.
President Trump's former campaign manager Paul Manafort departs U.S. District Court after a motions hearing in Alexandria, Virginia, U.S., May 4, 2018. The lawyers' facial expressions, Ellis said, appeared to show them thinking "why do we have to put up with this idiot judge?"
Tuesday's ruling from a three-judge panel on the DC Circuit Court of Appeals was unanimous.
Manafort's defense strategy is still unknown.
At one point in the trial's second day, Ellis also said he was told that attorneys on both sides had been seen rolling their eyes after leaving the bench or in response to his rulings.
Katzman said Manafort was the only customer to do this.