U.S. President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort on Tuesday will become the first person to go to trial after being ensnared in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe of Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
Here are some of the key players in the case against Manafort, 69, a veteran Washington political operative who briefly managed Trump’s campaign from May to August 2016.
* The defendant
Manafort has pleaded not guilty to 18 counts of bank fraud, tax fraud and failing to report foreign bank accounts. The trial was not expected to delve deeply into Manafort’s campaign work for Trump, but it will likely shed light on his lobbying, his ties to pro-Russian Ukrainians and how he allegedly funneled cash through offshore accounts to finance a lavish lifestyle.
He faces two criminal trials, the first in Alexandria, Virginia, and another later in Washington. His bail was revoked on June 15, and he remains jailed ahead of his trial.
* The special counsel
Mueller, appointed in May 2017 to his current post, has been running a wide-ranging inquiry that has charged 32 people, including 26 Russians, and others in Trump’s campaign orbit. Mueller himself was not expected to play a high-profile role in the court proceedings. Trump attacked Mueller in a series of tweets on Sunday and has called the Russia probe a witch hunt.
* The judge
Judge T.S. Ellis will preside in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. Appointed by President Ronald Reagan in 1987, Ellis has questioned the scope of Mueller’s probe and said Manafort’s indictment seemed to be aimed at getting him to provide information on Trump.
* The prosecutors
Seven prosecutors from Mueller’s office were expected to feature prominently in the trial, including veteran government attorneys Andrew Weissmann and Greg Andres, who returned to the government from private practice to work on Mueller’s probe.
* The defense
Manafort’s team includes Kevin Downing, Thomas Zehnle, Richard Westling and Jay Rohit Nanavati, all former prosecutors with complex tax fraud case experience.
* The witnesses
A star government witness will be Richard Gates, a former deputy Trump campaign chairman and former Manafort business associate. Gates has agreed to cooperate with the Mueller probe. He pleaded guilty in February to conspiring against the United States and lying to investigators.
Dennis Raico and James Brennan worked at Federal Savings Bank, a Chicago lender that extended Manafort $16 million in loans against his New York real estate holdings. The two were granted immunity in exchange for testimony.
Donna Duggan, Cindy Laporta and Conor O’Brien also were granted immunity to testify against Manafort. Duggan is an insurance agent with Moody Insurance Worldwide who worked on insurance related to a Brooklyn, New York, townhouse against which Manafort borrowed money from Federal Savings Bank. Laporta and O’Brien will testify about the preparation of Manafort’s tax returns by Virginia-based accounting firm KWC.
Tad Devine is a consultant who worked with Manafort in Ukraine. He will testify as a fact witness in the trial.
Viktor Yanukovych is the former pro-Russia president of Ukraine. He was Manafort’s top client until he was removed from power and fled to Russia in 2014. Prosecutors allege that Manafort hid income he earned through political consulting for Yanukovych and funneled it through offshore accounts.
Konstantin Kilimnik, a political consultant and one-time associate of Manafort, has been accused by prosecutors in the Washington case of having ties to Russian intelligence and helping Manafort try to tamper with witnesses. It was unclear if his role would surface during the first trial in Virginia.
Tony Podesta and Vin Weber are lobbyists whose firms, Podesta Group and Mercury Public Affairs, previously worked at Manafort’s direction to lobby for the European Centre for a Modern Ukraine. Their roles were expected to feature more prominently in the Washington trial later this autumn.
Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch, Nathan Layne, Daphne Psaledakis, Warren Strobel, John Whitesides; Compiled by Sarah N. Lynch and Daphne Psaledakis; Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh, Dan Burns and Peter Cooney
Buffalo has a long history of protecting cops from criminal charges: report
On Saturday, The Daily Beast documented the recent history of use of force in the Buffalo Police Department, which is reeling from controversy as two officers face assault charges for shoving a 75-year-old protester to the ground.
"As shocking as this all may be to outsiders, the shoving of demonstrator Martin Gugino and the defiant response of officers to an effort to discipline two of their own is indicative of the state of police affairs in Buffalo," wrote Jim Heaney. "Has been for a long time, not that you have to go back too far to find other episodes of brutality that have been captured on video."
Internet disgusted after Buffalo first responders cheer cops charged with assaulting 75-year-old protester
Commenters on Twitter expressed both contempt and disgust for Buffalo firefighters and police officers who turned out in front of Buffalo City Court to support two suspended police officers with applause and cheering.
Moments after officers Aaron Torglaski and Robert McCabe were charged with second-degree assault and then released without having to post bail, they were greeted as heroes outside the courthouse.
After a video was posted showing the celebration, commenters on Twitter vented at cops and firefighters for defending the two officers who assaulted the 75-year-old man who had to be rushed to a hospital after they shoved him to the ground where he sustained a head injury.
Donald Trump’s lurch toward fascism is backfiring spectacularly
Welcome to another edition of What Fresh Hell?, Raw Story’s roundup of news items that might have become controversies under another regime, but got buried – or were at least under-appreciated – due to the daily firehose of political pratfalls, unhinged tweet storms and other sundry embarrassments coming out of the current White House.
During the 2016 campaign, as Donald Trump railed against "Mexican rapists" and other "criminal aliens," pollsters found that the share of Americans who said that immigrants worked hard and made a positive contribution to our society increased significantly, and noticed a similar decline in the share who said they take citizens' jobs and burden our social safety net. After Trump was elected and began pursuing his Muslim ban, the share of respondents who held a positive view of Islam also increased pretty dramatically. I'm not aware of any polling of the general public about transgender troops serving in the military before Trump decided to discharge them, but Gallup found that 71 percent of respondents opposed his position after he did.