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Trump’s Ex-Campaign Chairman Manafort Faces Sept. 17 Trial After Pleading Not Guilty

Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who is facing the prospect of spending the rest of his life in prison on numerous charges related to his business dealing in eastern Europe, pleaded not guilty in federal court Wednesday and is scheduled for a trial beginning Sept. 17.

Unless Manafort strikes a deal with prosecutors, the former high-paid political consultant is expected to face the first trial to emerge from special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into whether Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia to undermine the 2016 presidential election.

Manafort’s longtime business partner, Rick Gates, is among three former Trump aides who have pleaded guilty to assortment of charges and have agreed to cooperate with Mueller’s team of prosecutors. Gates, who also served on Trump’s campaign, is expected to provide information about crimes he said he and Manafort committed as business partners.

Gates and Manafort were both charged with multiple counts of conspiracy, tax fraud and money laundering stemming from lobbying and consulting work related to Ukrainian politicians who are strong allies of Russia.

Because of his age, Manafort could spend the rest of his life in prison if convicted.

On Friday, Gates pleaded guilty to conspiracy to conceal tens of millions of dollars while working with Manafort.

The indictments do not mention work they did for Trump’s campaign, but Gates and Manafort played a prominent role in the campaign and have drawn suspicion because of their ties with pro-Russian factions in eastern Europe.

Last week, the men’s Russian-connected attorney Alex Van der Zwaan was charged with misleading the FBI about work he did for Manafort and Gates. 

About two weeks ago, 13 Russians were charged in a sweeping indictment alleging they waged a propaganda campaign to help Trump get elected. 

The other former Trump associates who have pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate with prosecutors are Trump’s former national security adviser Mike Flynn and ex-campaign adviser George Papadopoulos.

In March 2017, Mueller was appointed to investigate Russia’s alleged interference in the 2016 presidential election. Since then, the former FBI director has broadened the scope of the probe to include Trump’s business dealings http://ticklethewire.com/2018/02/28/special-counsels-probe-focuses-trumps-business-ties-prior-presidential-run/ and his firing of then-FBI Director James Comey.

Trump, who suggested Russian election meddling was “a hoax” peddled by the “fake media,” claims the special counsel probe is a “witch hunt” by the upper ranks of the FBI and Justice Department to bring him down.

His attorneys are trying to find a legal argument to prevent Trump from being interviewed by Mueller because they fear he will lie and commit perjury.


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