Prosecutors accused former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort of being a “shrewd” liar who orchestrated a global scheme to avoid paying taxes on millions of dollars, in opening statements that kicked off Manafort’s trial on Tuesday.
Manafort lived an “extravagant lifestyle” fueled by “secret income” that he earned from his lobbying in Ukraine, said Uzo Asonye, a prosecutor working on the case with special counsel Robert Mueller’s team. Manafort became wealthy from the “cash spigot” that came from working for his “golden goose in Ukraine,” former President Viktor Yanukovych, Asonye said.
The opening statement indicated that prosecutors plan to put Manafort’s wealth on trial as a key element of their case, arguing he funded his lavish spending habits by breaking the law.
“All of these charges boil down to one simple issue: that Paul Manafort lied,” Asonye said. “Manafort placed himself and his money over the law.”
This is the first jury trial stemming from the probe that President Donald Trump has repeatedly attacked as a “witch hunt.”
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