Today marks day one of former campaign manager Paul Manafort’s trial. Manafort is facing 18 separate charges including accusations of filing false tax returns, failing to report foreign bank accounts and defrauding several banks. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of 305 years in prison. Manafort plead not guilty to all 18 charges. A jury of six men and six women, six who voted for Trump in the 2016 election and six who voted for Clinton, sat today to hear opening statements from both the Prosecution and Defense. The Prosecution began today by accusing Manafort of being a "shrewd" liar who orchestrated a global scheme to avoid paying taxes on millions of dollars.
Uzo Asonye, a prosecutor working on the case with special counsel Robert Mueller's team described Manafort’s life as "extravagant" fueled by millions of dollars in "secret income" that he earned from his lobbying in Ukraine. Manafort owned several homes, acquired real estate in New York and Virginia, bought expensive cars and watches, and even got a $15,000 jacket "made from an ostrich."Asonye explained that Manafort’s life was simple, "Manafort placed himself and his money over the law." When illustrating to the jury what manaort did wrong, Asonye summed it up; "All of these charges boil down to one simple issue: that Paul Manafort lied”... Manafort became wealthy from the "cash spigot" that came from working for his "golden goose in Ukraine," former President Viktor Yanukovych, Asonye said. Attorney for the Defense, Thomas Zehnle, responded to the Prosecution by shifting blame to the Ukrainian oligarchs Manafort worked for and the business associates he worked with. In an attempt to explain why Manafort’s money was kept in one of his 30 foreign bank account the Prosecution said “This is the way that they [Ukraine] required it to be done”.
After hearing the judge's instructions that there will be “no mention of Paul Manafort's role in the Trump campaign, no mention of Trump, Russia or collusion," senior White House aide Kellyanne Conway confidently went on said Fox News this morning stating that "this trial obviously centers on matters that have nothing to do with the campaign."