The first trial to result from the FBI’s investigation into Russian election meddling is underway, but has little to do with Russia or President Trump.
Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign chair, is accused of financial crimes before he worked for the campaign.
He’s accused of making millions working for the Russian-backed Ukrainian government, hiding money overseas to avoid taxes, and lying to get loans to support his lavish lifestyle.
Manafort blames it all on the prosecution’s star witness, his former business partner Rick Gates.
The defense will argue Gates controlled the money, and embezzled it.
President Trump didn’t mention the trial or the Russia investigation at a campaign rally in Tampa Tuesday night, and the White House is keeping its distance.
Still, the trial could impact Robert Mueller’s investigation.
“A win here will both signify that he is here for serious, legitimate reasons, not a witch hunt, and also give him an edge going into the rest of this year’s proceedings,” says former U.S. Attorney Joyce vance.
Manafort faces up to ten years in prison if convicted.
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