Unless a last-minute plea deal is made, or some legal technicality is brought up, the trial against Paul Manafort is scheduled to start today. Manafort faces two trials, the one slated to start today and another one in September. Today’s trial in Alexandria was pushed back until today after Manafort’s defense team argued that it needed more time to go through recently released documents.
Paul Manafort has been in jail since June for violating the conditions of his bail. Manafort is accused of witness tampering, however, today’s case alleges Paul Manafort laundered $30 million and avoided paying taxes on the money. The September trial also includes money laundering and adds failure to register as a foreign agent. Both cases were filed by Robert Mueller’s team investigating Russian interference in the 2016 elections.
Today’s trial will focus on money laundering from income received by Manafort for his consulting work for the Ukrainian government. According to the court records, Manafort laundered $30 million between 2006 and 2014. Manafort is also accused of bank fraud.
Although the charges against Manafort do not involve his work for Donald Trump’s campaign, the charges are the result of Mueller discovering the alleged crimes as he followed the Russian money as part of the Russian interference investigation.
There are four possible outcomes.
- Paul Manafort decides to cooperate with the Mueller investigation, ending the trial and likely receiving a benefit by cooperating.
- Paul Manafort is found guilty. If Manafort is found guilty it would vindicate the Mueller Probe as necessary to finding wrong doing.
- Paul Manafort is acquitted of the charges. Should Manafort be acquitted, Donald Trump would be vindicating in calling the Russia probe a “witch hunt” in that Mueller was unable to convince a jury that Manafort committed the alleged crimes.
- A mistrial is declared. Should a mistrial be declared, there are numerous scenarios that can develop from this.
There is also the possibility that the trial is further delayed.
It is important to point out that Rick Gates, Manafort’s long-time partner, accepted a plea deal and is cooperating with the prosecutors against his former partner.
Should the trial start as scheduled, there will be some revelations about the Russian probe, and possibly what the Mueller team has, although the trial is not expected to have much discussion about Russian interference.
Nonetheless, everyone will be keeping a close eye on the trial.