Paul Manafort believed he was above the law: U.S. prosecutor

Paul Manafort arrives for a hearing at US District Court

Paul Manafort arrives for a hearing at US District Court

The prosecution on Tuesday portrayed U.S. President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort as a man who felt tax and banking laws did not apply to him and described how he opened more than 30 bank accounts in three foreign countries to "receive and hide" income from Ukraine.

U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis made several jokes during the jury selection process, including about the quality of the lunches jurors will be provided.

"Very few tax cases really do get a lot of attention", said Robert Barnes, a tax attorney who represented actor Wesley Snipes in a high-profile tax evasion case in 2008.

The U.S. attorneys need to "elicit some testimony" about each piece of evidence, Ellis said.

Prosecutor Greg Andres reassured the judge that "there will be no pictures of scantily clad women, period", nor photographs of Russian flags.

"That's not the American way", the judge added. "It's evidence of his income".

Paul Manafort's lawyers signaled their defense strategy on Tuesday as the former Trump campaign chairman's trial on tax and bank fraud charges began in Alexandria, Virginia.

"Just like he lied to the IRS and his tax preparer, Paul Manafort also misled his bookkeeper about his foreign accounts", Asonye said.

He said Manafort entrusted him with running the day to day operations of the company, but instead Gates abused his trust and "embezzled tens of millions of dollars form his longtime employer". But Manafort's lawyers appear intent on turning the tables on Gates and make him the main culprit in the affair.

Ellis said he thinks "the government's correct" in using the documents to broadly show how Manafort made his money.

At one point, an Federal Bureau of Investigation agent described the July 2017 raid on Manafort's Virginia condominium.

The exchange occurred during the testimony of Federal Bureau of Investigation agent Mathew Mikuska, who raided Mr. Manafort's Alexandria, Virginia condo past year. Asonye described how Manafort snapped up expensive real estate in the United States, spent millions of dollars on renovating his properties and more than a half million dollars on "fancy clothes".

On the term "oligarchs", Ellis said use of the word implied that Manafort was associating with "despicable people and therefore he's despicable".

"That's not the American way", the judge said.

Paul Manafort, left, President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman, walks with this wife Kathleen Manafort, as they arrive at the Alexandria Federal Courthouse in March. White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said the president indeed felt Manafort had been treated unfairly.

On Tuesday, Mr. Manafort's attorneys accused Mr. Gates of being the mastermind behind the crimes lodged against their client. "These old charges have nothing to do with Collusion - a Hoax!" Gates also worked on the Trump campaign.

"Money's coming in fast". "That's what Rick Gates was being paid to do".

Manafort has a second trial scheduled for September in the District of Columbia.

After opening statements, the jury heard from the government's first witness, Democratic strategist Tad Devine, who testified about his collaborations with Manafort on behalf of Ukrainian presidential candidate Viktor Yanukovych and his Party of Regions.

Gates, a longtime Manafort deputy who also worked in a senior role in the Trump campaign, had initially been charged alongside Manafort, but in February announced he would plead guilty to charges of conspiracy against the USA and lying to federal authorities. But Butina also appeared to have had a broader mission, The Daily Beast reports, detailing an encounter in which Butina urged legendary US financial executive Maurice "Hank" Greenberg to pour more money into the secretly insolvent Russian bank Investtorgbank, leaving observers "shocked and disturbed" at her audacity.

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