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"It seems to me we're seeing deeper ties that Manafort has had financially with his business deals in the Ukraine and with Russian Federation", said Shanlon Wu, a former lawyer for Manafort associate Rick Gates, who pleaded guilty in February and is aiding Mueller's probe.

In their opening statement on Tuesday, prosecutors said Manafort earned some $60 million in Ukraine and unlawfully failed to report a large portion of it to USA tax authorities.

Prosecutors say President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman orchestrated a multimillion-dollar conspiracy to evade us tax and banking laws, leaving behind a trail of lies as he lived a lavish lifestyle.

Gates pleaded guilty in February and agreed to cooperate with the Mueller investigation on "all matters" they deem relevant.

The charges against Manafort center on lobbying work he did in Ukraine - work that predates the 2016 presidential campaign, when he served as Donald Trump's campaign chairman.

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Defense attorney Thomas Zehnle focused much of his opening statement on the question of trust, particularly the trust that Manafort placed in his former right-hand man, Rick Gates.

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

Last week, Ellis granted Mueller's request to give immunity to five witnesses expected to testify at Manafort's trial, but denied prosecutors' request to protect their identities.

Paul Manafort faces 18 criminal counts, including bank fraud, and could face up to 30 years in jail if found guilty.

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. But Manafort, according to prosecutors, hid the existence of his offshore accounts from his own tax preparers and bookkeepers. Trump repeatedly has sought to discredit the investigation, which is also looking into any possible unlawful Trump campaign coordination with Moscow.

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"Bob Mueller is totally conflicted", Trump continued. Trump denies any collusion with Russian Federation, and on Tuesday tried to make the case publicly that collusion would not be a crime anyway.

Before the start of jury selection, prosecutors filed an expanded list of its evidence exhibits, including several email chains between Manafort and Stephen Calk, a Chicago bank chairman. That left a jury of 12 and four additional alternate jurors, who were sworn in as Mr. Manafort looked on wearing a dark suit.

"It was a tremendous amount of work and I have to say, Paul worked harder than anyone", Devine said.

Legal experts said Manafort may be hoping to be found not guilty - or holding out hopes of a presidential pardon.

The sharp words marked a dramatic opening to the trial, in keeping with the notoriously fast-moving Eastern District Court of Virginia, which lawyers often refer to as home to the "rocket docket".

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But Gates kept his name on them "so he could keep control", he said. Three Russian companies have also been charged. Manafort and Gates were the first two people indicted by a grand jury, and Manafort is the first to go to trial.


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