The first trial of Paul Manafort, President Trump’s former campaign chairman, is underway in Virginia.
Manafort is the first person to go on trial as part of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation.
The trial is not focusing on election meddling, but rather Manafort’s personal finances and whether he tried to hide millions of dollars earned as a consultant for the Ukrainian government.
The outcome of this trial could have major implications on Mueller’s probe.
“Because this is the first time that an official body, namely a jury, is going to decide, sort of give a thumbs up or thumbs down to the fact finding and evidence Mueller is presenting,” says former assistant U.S. Attorney Mimi Rocah.
Prosecutors likely will not even mention the words “Russia” and “collusion” during the trial, but President Trump is, tweeting Tuesday that “collusion is not a crime, but that doesn’t matter because there was no collusion.”
The president recently downplayed the role of campaign manager Manafort, who helped him secure the presidential nomination.
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