Manafort’s attorney asks judge to bar mention of Trump ties in trial
Attorneys for former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort asked a judge to bar any mention of President Trump from Manafort’s upcoming trial, according to new court filings.
According to court filings obtained by CBS News, Manafort’s lawyers argue that his alleged crimes occurred before joining the Trump campaign, meaning any mention of the president would be irrelevant. The lawyers wrote that mention of Trump during Manafort’s trial could taint jurors’ perception of him, influencing their decision in his case.
“[T]here is a very real risk that the jurors in this case – most of whom likely have strong views about President Trump, or have likely formed strong opinions as to the well-publicized allegations that the campaign colluded with Russian officials – will be unable to separate their opinions and beliefs about those matters from the tax and bank fraud matters to be tried before them in this case,” they wrote.
News of Manafort’s request comes after the judge in the case, Judge T.S. Ellis III, questioned federal prosecutors working for special counsel Robert Mueller’s office on their indictment of Manafort. Ellis, at times, lost his temper as he pressed one of Mueller’s lawyers on whether the indictment was being used as leverage against Trump.
Prosecutors fired back in a court filing, arguing the question was inconsequential.
“The government’s reasons for initiating a prosecution have nothing to do with whether the evidence at trial proves the elements of the charged offenses, which is the sole question that the jury must answer,” prosecutors wrote, according to CBS.
The former Trump campaign chairman is accused of bank fraud, money laundering and failing to register as a foreign agent with the Justice Department, regarding his lobbying work for pro-Russia political parties in Ukraine prior to the 2016 election.
He has pleaded not guilty to the charges.