Robert Mueller and his team of attorneys are currently trying to prove that former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort concealed money from the IRS that he received while working as a lobbyist and political consultant for pro-Russia Ukrainian officials and when those funds were used, he committed bank fraud. Manafort has pleaded not guilty to 18 counts of bank and tax fraud.
Paul Manafort is the first of those indicted by Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 trial to stand trial.
Manafort’s team of attorneys is focusing their efforts on Richard Gates, Manafort’s longtime business associate who was in charge of record keeping. Gates has testified that he helped Manafort to file fraudulent tax returns and conceal overseas accounts. This testimony came from the beginning of the second week of the trial. Gates testified that Manafort had asked him on multiple occasions not to disclose the existence of overseas accounts.
Gates also testified that over the years, he stole several hundreds of thousands of dollars from Manafort, which the defense is using as to shift blame away from Manafort.
The prosecution is highlighting some of the extravagant spendings of Manafort over the years. The prosecutors are trying to show that Manafort used his money hidden overseas to buy luxury goods for himself. Prosecutors called the former manager of a luxury men’s clothing store to testify that Manafort paid for his purchases with wire transfers from accounts in Cyprus.
It’s not yet clear if Manafort will take the stand in his own defense. Many attorneys advise against the defendant taking the stand, as taking the stand can be risky for the defendant. More often than not, a defendant testifying in their defense will not help their case, and can even hurt it.
President Trump is unhappy with the way the trial is being handled. He tweeted “Looking back on history, who was treated worse, Alfonse Capone, legendary mob boss, killer and ‘Public Enemy Number One,’ or Paul Manafort, political operative & Reagan/Dole darling, now serving solitary confinement – although convicted of nothing? Where is the Russian Collusion?”
While it’s unclear whether the jury will find Manafort guilty or innocent, it’s clear that this trial has very little to do with President Trump and nothing to do with the supposed Russia collusion.