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Paul Manafort trial underway with jury selection

July 31, 2018

Lawyers are working through a pool of 65 potential jurors as one of the federal trials of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort kicked off in Alexandria on Tuesday.

The court will whittle that pool down to 16 jurors and four alternates before beginning arguments in the case, which involves 18 counts of bank and tax fraud. He also faces another case in federal court in D.C. on charges of failing to disclose activities on behalf of a foreign government.

Of the 65 potential jurors, nine said they had ties to the Justice Department, either because a relative worked there or they did business with the department in some way.

Mr. Manafort will have 12 chances to strike jurors, while prosecutors have eight strikes.

Mr. Manafort was in the courtroom dressed in a suit as the proceedings began. He had his bail revoked and was ordered to remain in custody by the judge in the Washington case after potential witnesses said they felt he had tried to coach them on their stories.

In the Virginia trial, Mr. Manafort’s lawyers had asked District Judge T.S. Ellis III to throw out some of the exhibits the government has said it may use. Judge Ellis declined to make a ruling, but did lay out several principles he wanted to make sure government evidence adhered to, including strict standards for relevance to the case.

“I hope you will take these principles back, apply them vigorously, and reduce them,” he said of the exhibit list.

The charges stem from Mr. Manafort’s lobbying in the Ukraine on behalf of politicians with ties to Russia. Prosecutors have alleged he was paid more than $60 million for his work, which includes support of former Ukrainian President Viktor Yankovich.

Government attorneys say Mr. Manafort engaged in a scheme to hide his income from the IRS and other authorities in the United States. Instead of paying taxes on the income, they say he used it to support a lavish lifestyle that included three homes, a $21,000 watch, a $105,000 car and New York Yankees season tickets.

Mr. Manafort’s work as a Ukrainian political operative occurred nearly a decade before he took over the Trump campaign in mid-2016. He organized the Republican convention in July 2016, but quit President Trump’s team one month later.

Prosecutors have said they will not present evidence of Russian collusion during Mr. Manafort’s trial, but have claimed they the authority to prosecute him under a May 2017 order by Deputy Attorney Rod Rosenstein.

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