Russia probe prosecutors maintain charges against Manafort

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Alexandria, Virginia, Aug 16 (IANS) Lawyers working with the Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who is heading the Russia probe, on Wednesday maintained the charges filed initially against Paul Manafort, the former campaign chairman for now-President Donald Trump, which could mean that he spends the rest of his life in prison if he is convicted on the 18 counts against him.

During the presentation of closing arguments in Manafort’s trial in Alexandria, Virginia, Mueller’s team stuck to their narrative about the former campaign chief that they had presented during the trial lasting more than two weeks in federal court, Efe reported.

“When you follow the trail of Mr. Manafort’s money, it’s littered with lies,” special counsel prosecutor Greg Andres said in court, telling jurors that Manafort is “not above the law” and adding that “he lied to his tax preparers, he lied to his bookkeeper, because he wanted to hide that money and avoid paying taxes.”

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Convictions on all counts, as investigators have attempted to prove in the court documents filed to date, could result in Manafort spending the rest of his life behind bars.

The members of the jury took their seats in court again to hear the closing arguments, as well as the details of his behavior as a multimillionaire lover of luxury who falsified loan applications and other documents, according to the prosecution’s narrative.

Manafort will face his second trial starting Sept. 17 within the context of the Russia probe in a Washington court, a case in which he has also pleaded not guilty.

Since May 2017, Mueller has been independently investigating for the US government the possible links between members of the Trump campaign and the Kremlin, which US intelligence agencies accuse of interfering in the 2016 presidential election to favor Trump.

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Manafort allegedly worked for foreign governments between 2006 and 2017, including pro-Russian former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich, and for Russian oligarchs, whom he helped improve their images in Washington without registering those activities with the US government, an omission that constitutes a crime.

Although the current trial against Manafort arose from Mueller’s investigation, it is not directly related to the campaign chief’s activities between March-August 2016, when he worked for Trump.

–IANS

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