Manafort Trial Begins
The trial of former President Donald Trump associate Paul Manafort began today on July 31, 2018. Jurors were selected from a panel in the Virginia area. The empaneled jury consists of 12 individuals and 3 alternates. The jury is composed of six men and six women. The alternates are three women and one man. Jury selection took less than a day which is fairly quick for a case of this magnitude. In many state and federal cases, jury selection can take several days as attorneys and the trial judge sift through individual’s potential scheduling conflicts, biases and other relevant factors. It appears attorneys in this matter were able to address many of these issues expeditiously.
The United States Government and the defense for Mr. Manafort will present their opening statements this afternoon. U.S. Attorney Uzo Asonye, an assistant United States Attorney in the Eastern District of Virginia who was brought on to help the special counsel team with the prosecution, will deliver the opening statement for the government. He has been involved in several high-profile prosecutions before. Thomas Zehnle will deliver the opening statement for Mr. Manafort. Mr. Zehnle worked as a federal prosecutor before becoming a criminal defense attorney. He has secured high profile acquittals in the past.
Manafort is accused of multiple counts of fraud in relation to accepting money he made while working for a Russian-backed Ukrainian political party and hiding those assets to avoid paying taxes among other counts of fraud. In total, there are 18 counts against Manafort. One of the key witnesses in the trial will be Manafort’s former business partner Robert Gates. Mr. Gates plead guilty earlier this year and plans to testify against Mr. Manafort in this trial.
The trial will likely last several weeks.