Paul Manafort, President Trump’s onetime campaign chairman, is on trial in federal court in Alexandria on bank and tax fraud charges. Prosecutors allege he failed to pay taxes on millions he made from his work for a Russia-friendly Ukrainian political party, then lied to get loans when the cash stopped coming in.
The case is being prosecuted by the special counsel investigating Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Here is what happened on the trial’s first day.
A jury of six men and six women was selected.
The government presented its opening statement, accusing Manafort of failing to pay taxes on millions of dollars he earned working for a pro-Russia political candidate in Ukraine and using the money to fund a lavish lifestyle, including purchasing a $15,000 jacket “made from an ostrich.”
Manafort’s defense sought to place the blame on his former business partner, Richard Gates, who they said embezzled money from Manafort.
Prosecutors called their first witness, Tad Devine, who was Bernie Sanders’s chief strategist in the 2016 election.
Defense attorney Richard Westling began his cross examination of Tad Devine by asking what he thought of Paul Manafort. Devine said he thought highly of the work Manafort did as a political consultant. “Paul worked harder than anybody,” Devine testified. “There were emails sent through the night.”
Devine agreed with Westling that you could make a lot of money as a political consultant “sometimes.”
On what is known as a “redirect,” with prosecutors again asking the questions, Devine testified that he had no bank accounts in Cyprus. Prosecutor Greg Andres had asked the question to highlight the difference between the Democratic strategist and his boss in Ukraine.
Outside court, Devine declined to comment, saying “Paul deserves a fair trial.”
That concluded the first day of the trial. Prosecutors indicated the first witness Wednesday will be Daniel Rabin, another political consultant who worked with Manafort in Ukraine, and an unnamed FBI agent. The proceedings start at 9:30 a.m.