Expected star witness may not testify in Trump ex-aide Manafort's trial

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On Wednesday morning, President Donald Trump tweeted about Manafort, accusing prosecutors of treating his former campaign chairman like "Alfonse Capone" - the notorious gangster who spent years in prison for income tax evasion.

The charges against Manafort grew from Mueller's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, and whether any Americans conspired with those efforts.

Manafort has pleaded not guilty to bank and tax fraud charges stemming from special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE's investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

But the broader implications are unmistakable.

The prosecution said in court it is moving ahead of schedule and intends to rest its case sometime next week. Trump denies any collusion by his campaign.

Gates was expected to be the government's star witness at trial, but prosecutor Uzo Asonye said he could not say with certainty whether Gates would or would not testify. "Obviously, that's very risky for him".

Manafort's defense countered during cross examination that Katzman was often unable to reach Manafort directly and instead went to his former business partner Gates for payments.

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.

Judge T.S. Ellis was not a fan of the prosecution's focus on Manafort's lavish lifestyle, and would often cut off questioning if it delved too into the details of the luxury items Manafort was purchasing, allegedly with income he failed to disclose on federal forms and money he wired from foreign bank counts that he didn't report to the USA government.

Jurors are expected to see photographs of his Mercedes-Benz and of his Hampton property putting green and swimming pool.

Prosecutors originally planned to submit 50 exhibits and more than 400 documents to the record as evidence.

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Judge T.S. Ellis will preside in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia.

"All of these charges boil down to one simple issue: that Paul Manafort lied", Asonye said.

Invoices from the store entered into evidence Wednesday show that Manafort and his wife, Kathleen, also bought a $9,500 ostrich vest and an $18,500 python coat from Alan Couture.

Nor will they hear about the reason he's been jailed since last month after a judge revoked his house arrest over allegations that he and a longtime associate attempted to tamper with witnesses in the case.

Paul Manafort of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump's staff listens during a round table discussion on security at Trump Tower in the Manhattan borough of NY, U.S., August 17, 2016.

Trump and his lawyers have repeatedly sought to play down Manafort's connection to the president, yet the trial won't be entirely without references to the campaign.

Pres. Trump derides previous administrations for not telling him about Paul Manafort's alleged crimes before he hired him to run his 2016 campaign. The administration job never materialized.

Prosecutors made no reference to Trump in their opening statement nor discussed in any way Manafort's leadership of the Trump campaign, or the ongoing investigation into potential collusion between Russian Federation and the president's associates. He noted that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who appointed Mueller, had explicitly authorized Mueller to investigate Manafort's business dealings.

Manafort was also a customer of House of Bijan, another luxury menswear shop.

"When a prosecutor looks into those dealings and uncovers evidence of criminal culpability", said Stanford law professor David Alan Sklansky, "it doesn't make sense to ask him to avert his eyes".

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