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Takeaways from prosecutors' case against Paul Manafort

Chris Megerian and Eliza Fawcett, Los Angeles Times on

Published in News & Features

WASHINGTON -- After roughly two dozen witnesses and nine days of testimony, federal prosecutors are expected to finish presenting their case against Paul Manafort on Monday. Then lawyers for President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman will present his defense.

The trial is the first on charges brought by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III. Manafort has pleaded not guilty to tax evasion, bank fraud and conspiracy.

Reporters and spectators have packed the stiff wooden pews every day of the trial. Here's what we've learned so far.

-- The case really isn't about Russia.

Prosecutors disclosed before the trial that they didn't expect to present evidence of an election-related conspiracy with Russians, and they've stuck to that. There has been no talk of Russian meddling in the campaign -- nothing about hacking of emails, social media misinformation or secret back channels to the Kremlin.

-- But there could be Russia connections at some point.

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The trial has still produced some bread crumbs that could lead to Moscow, although their significance is unclear.

For example, the jury learned that Konstantin Kilimnik had access to some of Manafort's offshore bank accounts. Kilimnik was Manafort's business partner in Ukraine, but he's also alleged to have ties to Russian intelligence.

There have also been references to Oleg Deripaska, a businessman close to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Deripaska paid Manafort $10 million disguised as a loan to evade U.S. income taxes, according to testimony from Manafort's former accountant.

-- Manafort was broke when he started working for the Trump campaign -- for free.

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