Paul Manafort, Donald Trump’s former campaign manager was in a Virginia based court to answer for crimes he committed in relation to bank fraud and tax evasion. Manafort was charged alongside Rick Gates, a business associate who has since pleaded guilty to the charges and agreed to cooperate with the ongoing investigation conducted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
Robert Mueller is conducting investigations into possible collusion between Trump’s campaign in 2016 and the Russian meddling into the elections. While conducting the investigations, Mueller unfolded the crimes committed by Manafort and Gates and charged them with indictments on tax evasion, money laundering, and bank fraud among others.
Manafort was in a Washington based court last week answering to the same charges as well as being appraised on contempt of court after he violated the judge’s gag order. He publicly commented that he wished his associate Rick would have had the strength to fight for his innocence against the issued gag order. While being rebuked in court last week the judge explained to Manafort that liberating about the case outside the court may sway the jury not to perform objectively.
The Court Session in Virginia
Manafort attended court in Alexandria, Virginia on Thursday and the session was presided over by Judge T.S. Ellis. After the criminal charges against Manafort were read to him, he pleaded not guilty. His plea was the same as the plea he took in Washington last week.
During the session, Judge Ellis expressed his concerns about Manafort’s flight risk when he suggested that there is need to consider stepping up Manafort’s restriction to movement. The new restrictions would change his status from home confinement to home incarceration. Despite his consideration, the judge agreed to Manafort wearing two wrist bracelets which would enable probation officials in Virginia and Washington to monitor his movements.
Manafort’s lawyers informed the judge that they were still working on the $10 million bail package which may ease restrictions on Paul’s movement. The lawyers also indicated that their client fully intends to contest the charges brought against him.
The Progress of Manafort’s Court Cases
Trial dates in Virginia have been set for July 10th while trials for Washington’s case are set to begin in September. Andrew Weissmann a prosecutor at the Virginia based court stated that July’s trial will last eight to ten days involving about 24 prosecution witnesses.
Although Manafort’s cases have no links to the Russian meddling in America’s elections, Mueller’s team is allowed to charge for any crimes they uncover during their investigations.