Trial Begins For Trumps' Ex-Campaign Chief Paul Manafort
Manafort is charged with 18 criminal offences and could face up to 30 years in jail.
Prosecutors and defence attorneys have selected a 12-member jury to weigh the fate of US President Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort.
In the first trial to arise out of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia probe, a jury of six men and six women will hear testimony in the trial of Manafort, who faces charges he hid tens of millions of dollars earned in Ukraine in offshore accounts and defrauded banks for loans. Four alternate jurors also were chosen.
Opening statements in the high-profile case were set to begin later on Tuesday in a Virginia federal court.
The tax and bank fraud trial represents the first test of Mueller's ability to win a conviction of a former Trump aide.
Three other aides, including Manafort's longtime business partner Rick Gates, have already pleaded guilty and are cooperating with Mueller's probe.
Prosecutors are seeking to provide details of Manafort's work for a pro-Russian political party in Ukraine, raising the possibility that new information about his Russian connections could emerge.
Manafort has filed a motion to have details of that work excluded from trial.
Manafort, 69, faces 18 criminal counts, which centre on allegations that he hid much of the $US60 million he earned in Ukraine in undisclosed overseas bank accounts and failed to pay taxes on it.
Prosecutors also accuse him of lying to US banks to obtain real estate loans in a bid to maintain a lavish lifestyle after his client, former pro-Russia Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, fell from power in 2014 and the money stopped.
Manafort has pleaded not guilty to all the charges.
US District Judge T.S. Ellis said he planned to rule on whether that Ukraine-related evidence can be included after the jury selection process in the Washington suburb of Alexandria.
"Those documents are relevant," Ellis said earlier in the day, referring to prosecution exhibits showing the nature of Manafort's funds, but added that it was not the end of the issue.
Outside the courthouse, a handful of protesters displayed a life-sized puppet of Trump and held signs saying :Trump won't do time for you" "It's Mueller time," and "I like your new suit" alongside a photo of Manafort's mug shot.
Mueller was appointed by the US Justice Department's No. 2 official last year to take over an FBI investigation into Russia's role in the 2016 presidential election and whether there was unlawful coordination between Trump's campaign and Moscow.
The Virginia trial will be followed by a second one in Washington in September in which Manafort is charged with money laundering, failing to register as a foreign agent and witness tampering.
Manafort has pleaded not guilty to those charges, as well.
In the Washington case, a federal judge last month ordered Manafort jailed after Mueller charged him with witness-tampering, charges to which he pleaded not guilty.
A US appeals court in Washington on Tuesday rejected Manafort's request to be released. A three-judge panel said there was no clear error in the lower court's decision, noting that Manafort "went right past the line with the alleged witness tampering."