ALEXANDRIA, VIRGINIA, UNITED STATES (JULY 31, 2018) (BILL HENNESSY) – The first trial of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe got underway on Tuesday (July 31) with Paul Manafort, a former chairman of U.S. President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign, facing charges that he hid tens of millions of dollars earned in Ukraine in offshore accounts and defrauded banks for loans.
The tax and bank fraud trial in a Virginia federal court represents the first test of Mueller’s ability to win a conviction of a former Trump aide. Three other aides, including Manafort’s longtime business partner Rick Gates, have already pleaded guilty and are cooperating with Mueller’s probe.
Prosecutors are seeking to provide details of Manafort’s work for a pro-Russian political party in Ukraine, raising the possibility that new information about his Russian connections could emerge. Manafort has filed a motion to have details of that work excluded from trial.
U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis said he plans to rule on whether that Ukraine-related evidence can be included after the jury is selected, a process starting Tuesday morning. A total of 16 jurors, 12 regular and four alternates, will be chosen in the Washington suburb of Alexandria after being screened for potential bias.