Manafort’s trial enters second day

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Euronews: The political consulting work that President Donald Trump’s onetime campaign chairman Paul Manafort did to earn $60 million in Ukraine is expected to take the spotlight on Wednesday on the second day of his criminal trial.

The first witness set to be questioned by prosecutors is Daniel Rabin, a political consultant who produced TV ads for Manafort in Ukraine. Rabin will likely be asked to elaborate on the nature of Manafort’s work for pro-Russian politicians there.

Prosecutors said their second witness would be an FBI agent, whose name was not disclosed.

Manafort is charged with tax fraud, bank fraud and failing to report foreign bank accounts. His trial is the first under Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russia’s alleged interference in the 2016 presidential election. He has pleaded not guilty to all the charges against him.

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

They portrayed him as a tax cheat who hid the money in offshore accounts, and lied to borrow millions more against real estate in a bid to maintain an extravagant lifestyle once the work dried up.

Manafort’s attorneys, on the other hand, described their client as a talented consultant who made it to the pinnacle of U.S. politics and on the global stage.

They argued he did not willfully mislead or deceive the IRS, and that he was betrayed by his former business associate Rick Gates.

In his opening on Tuesday, Manafort attorney Thomas Zehnle made it clear the defence plans to make attacking Gates a key plank of their defence.

They noted that Gates, who has pleaded guilty to making false statements, is being trusted to tell the truth when he testifies as a star witness for the prosecution.

The defence lawyer said Gates would “tell untruths” about Manafort. He also accused Gates of not being honest with the accountants that prepared Manafort’s tax returns and of embezzling funds from their business.

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