The trial of Paul Manafort, the first criminal trial to stem from the special counsel’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, opened Tuesday in the Eastern District of Virginia. Lawyers for both sides avoided mention of Robert Mueller or Donald Trump, yet the specter of L’Affaire Russe hung over the proceedings even before the president tweeted about his former campaign chairman on Wednesday:
Autumn Brewington is an editor at Lawfare and a freelance writer in Washington. She was an editor at the Washington Post from 2001 to 2014 and ran the Wall Street Journal’s Think Tank blog from 2014 through 2016. A graduate of the Missouri School of Journalism, she also edits for the Texas National Security Review.
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The trial of Paul Manafort is scheduled to begin Tuesday in the Eastern District of Virginia, five months after Special Counsel Robert Mueller indicted the former chairman of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign for banking and tax-fraud charges related to laundering more than $30 million worth of income. This is the first trial to arise from Mueller’s investigation, and the focus is on financial crimes, some tied to Manafort’s political work in Ukraine dating to 2006.
As President Trump prepares to meet with Vladimir Putin, his Justice Department says it can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the Russian president has been lying about his country’s involvement in the 2016 election hacking.
The 500-page Justice Department report underscores that the investigation has no simple narrative arc.