22:50 GMT +324 May 2019
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    Paul Manafort, former advisor to Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump's campaign, as he checks the teleprompters before Trump's speech at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, DC. (File)

    US Plans to Show No Evidence of Collusion with Russia at Manafort Trial

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    US special counsel Robert Mueller indicted former Trump campaign official Paul Manafort during the course of the investigation into alleged collusion between the campaign and the Russian government, but doesn’t plan on bringing any evidence to court regarding that charge in the trial starting July 31.

    "The government does not intend to present at trial evidence or argument concerning collusion with the Russian government," Assistant US Attorney Uzo Asonye wrote in a document filed with the court earlier this month.

    Instead, the most serious charge Manafort faces is bank fraud (and a lot of it). US District Judge T.S. Ellis III is overseeing the trial hearing in Alexandria, Virginia, in the Washington metro area.

    Specifically, Asonye said prosecutors planned to furnish evidence showing that Manafort obtained $16 million in loans in a quid pro quo deal with banker Stephen Calk, who wanted to work in the Trump administration and saw Manafort as a path to achieve that goal.

    On the first day of trial, prosecutors claimed they would produce evidence showing that Manafort put himself and his money above the law; and that he opened 30 bank accounts in foreign countries as party of a bank fraud scheme. The charges against Manafort can be summed up by one statement, prosecutors said: Manafort lied.

    Judge Ellis has previously been skeptical about the bank fraud charge being brought in the Alexandria court. (Manafort will face a second tranche of alleged criminal violations in a District of Columbia district court. The first court hearing for those charges is set for September 17.)

    "I don't see what relation this indictment has with what the special counsel is authorized to investigate," Ellis said in May, Politico reported. "You don't really care about Mr. Manafort's bank fraud… What you really care about is that information Mr. Manafort could give you that would reflect on Mr. Trump or lead to his prosecution or impeachment."

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    Tags:
    Bank Fraud, bankers, alleged collusion, US Justice Department, Mueller, Paul Manafort, Alexandria
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