Judge Suggests Manafort Trial Could Start In May 2018

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A judge proposed Nov. 3 that the trial of  former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his associate, Rick Gates, could begin in May 2018.

Judge Amy Berman Jackson added that while she will consider arguments from defense attorneys before confirming the date, she will not change the date of the trial when it has been finalized, according to CNN.

Manafort, who managed President Donald Trump's campaign for several months in summer 2016, is facing charges of money laundering and other acts of financial wrongdoing. He is currently under house arrest and is due back in court Nov. 6. Manafort has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Special counsel Robert Mueller, who is leading an investigation into alleged Russian interference into the 2016 election, released the indictments against Manafort and Gates on Oct. 30.

Sources familiar with the investigation told Bloomberg that Manafort's bank and company records were handed over to U.S. authorities by the government of Cyprus. The decision followed a June 7 request from the U.S. for any information related to Manafort and Gates.

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Investigators working with Mueller have accused the pair of hiding their work as lobbyists for the Ukrainian government and laundering up to $75 million through a number of offshore accounts.

George Papadopoulos, an aide to the Trump campaign, pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about contacts he had with Russians during 2016.

Trump was asked Nov. 3 about a meeting he attended in 2016 at which Papadopoulos proposed arranging a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

"I don't remember much about that meeting," said Trump, according to Reuters. "It was a very unimportant meeting."

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The president also appealed to the Justice Department to examine the activities of his rival in the presidential election campaign, Democrat Hillary Clinton.

"Everybody is asking why the Justice Department (and FBI) isn't looking into all of the dishonesty going on with Crooked Hillary & the Dems," Trump added on Twitter.

The president's remarks prompted criticism from some within his own party.

"President Trump's pressuring of the Justice Department and FBI to pursue cases against his adversaries and calling for punishment before trials take place are totally inappropriate and not only undermine our justice system but erode the American people's confidence in our institutions," said Republican Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee. Corker has clashed with the president on several issues.

Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California was no less critical in her response.

"We can't allow ourselves to become numb to the president of the United States calling on independent law enforcement organizations to investigate his political opponents," she said. "That's characteristic of authoritarian regimes, not democracies, and it needs to stop."

Sources: CNN, Bloomberg, Reuters / Featured Image: Michael Vadon/Wikimedia Commons / Embedded Images: Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia Commons (2)

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