The first federal trial for former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort is set to start tomorrow in Washington D.C. Leftists are salivating over what the trial could reveal about the 2016 presidential election, alleged Russian collusion and Manafort's relationship with President Donald Trump.
But the broader implications are unmistakable. But the trial will give the public its most detailed glimpse of evidence gathered by special prosecutor Robert Mueller.
Mr Manafort took over as chairman of the Trump campaign in May 2016 and aimed to present a more thoughtful candidate, who stuck to scripts instead of ad-libbing in campaign rallies.
At the same time, Mueller's team continues to press the president's legal team for an interview with the commander in chief.
Manafort faces charges in two different courts and could spend decades in prison if convicted. He pleaded not guilty, and through a spokesman said, "This fight is just beginning". "Obviously, that's very risky for him".
Jurors are expected to see photographs of his Mercedes-Benz and of his Hampton property putting green and swimming pool.
Also on the list, the senior director of ticket operations for the New York Yankees. Manafort would eventually help Viktor Yanukovych, the leader of the Russia-aligned Party of Regions, win the presidency in 2010. One of the judges, T.S. Ellis, said prosecutors rightfully "followed the money paid by pro-Russian officials" to Manafort.
Prosecutor Greg Andres reassured the judge that "there will be no pictures of scantily clad women, period", nor photographs of Russian flags. In fact, prosecutors said last week they don't expect the word "Russia" to be mentioned at all.
Their paths crossed again in 2006, when Manafort hired Gates - under his spin-off firm Davis Manafort- as he was launching on a lucrative consulting endeavor in Ukraine.
Manafort was initially ordered to remain under house arrest as he awaited trial, but U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson, who is presiding over the case in the District of Columbia, sent him to jail in June after prosecutors flagged evidence that Manafort had been trying to influence the testimony of potential witnesses.
Prosecutors plan to produce almost three dozen witnesses during the trial, including Manafort's former associate Richard Gates, who is cooperating with the government after pleading guilty to lesser charges in February.
Gates is also expected to play a key role in Manafort's second trial scheduled for September.
Veteran criminal defense attorney Shanlon Wu, who is also not associated with the Manafort defense team, tells ABC that in his opinion the government's strategy is more focused at this point on avoiding any do-overs. DMI was created in 2011 as a result of Manafort's lobbying work in Ukraine. The administration job never materialized. Previously, he tried to challenge Mueller's prosecutorial authority, a move that included filing a civil lawsuit against the Justice Department. At one point, his defence lawyers sued Mueller and the Justice Department, saying they had overstepped their bounds by bringing a prosecution untethered to the core questions of Mueller's investigation - whether Russian Federation worked with the Trump campaign to tip the election. The special counsel says it will need three weeks to try the case. That ruling came after Ellis had read the unredacted U.S. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein memo appointing Mueller to take over the Russian Federation investigation. Trump denies any collusion.
"When a prosecutor looks into those dealings and uncovers evidence of criminal culpability", said Stanford law professor David Alan Sklansky, "it doesn't make sense to ask him to avert his eyes".