Judge Cautions Mueller Team on High Bar for Manafort Conviction

The judge in the Paul Manafort trial once again mentioned the high bar for conviction to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team on Friday. This means that they must offer evidence proving that the former Trump campaign chairman knowingly violated tax and bank laws related to his political work overseas, Fox News informed.

On the trial’s fourth day, U.S. District Court Judge T.S. Ellis III indicated he believes the prosecution has demonstrated Manafort had control of foreign bank accounts despite checking a box on tax returns saying he didn’t have them.

But Ellis reminded prosecutors, “The government has to prove that [Manafort] knew what the requirement was and that he deliberately violated it.”

Ellis also reminded prosecutors they have to prove Manafort’s “willfulness” in failing to file a Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts.

Manafort, facing charges of bank and tax fraud related to his political work in Ukraine, has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Friday’s testimony has focused on the tax fraud charges. The years involved, 2010 to 2014, were before Manafort worked for President Trump’s campaign. Though the case stems from Mueller’s probe of election meddling by Russia and possible collusion by the Trump campaign, there has been no mention of election interference.

Manafort served as chairman of Trump’s presidential campaign during the summer of 2016, and was forced out in August of that year amid news stories about his ties to then-Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych.

The Manafort defense hinges on convincing jurors that Manafort was the boss who didn’t handle bills or accounts, but left that to his deputy, Rick Gates, who is cooperating with prosecutors and may testify as its star witness.

“Rick Gates had his hand in the cookie jar and couldn’t let his boss find out,” Manafort defense attorney Thomas Zehnle said during opening arguments.

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