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Trump-Russia collusion investigations

Donald Trump urges Attorney General Jeff Sessions to end Robert Mueller’s probe into Russia ties ‘right now’

The president’s latest tweet on the probe came on the second day of a trial of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort on unrelated bank and tax fraud charges

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 01 August, 2018, 9:53pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 01 August, 2018, 10:15pm

US President Donald Trump called on Wednesday on Attorney General Jeff Sessions to end the investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 US elections, calling it “a disgrace to USA”.

The president’s latest tweet on the probe led by special counsel Robert Mueller came on the second day of a trial of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort on unrelated bank and tax fraud charges.

“This is a terrible situation and Attorney General Jeff Sessions should stop this Rigged Witch Hunt right now, before it continues to stain our country any further,” Trump said, calling Mueller’s probe “a disgrace to USA.”

Manafort orchestrated a multimillion-dollar conspiracy to evade US tax and banking laws, leaving behind a trail of lies as he lived a lavish lifestyle, prosecutors said as they laid out their case against the former Trump campaign chairman.

Prosecutor Uzo Asonye told the jury during his opening statement on Tuesday that Manafort considered himself above the law as he funnelled tens of millions of dollars through offshore accounts. That “secret income” was used to pay for personal expenses such as a US$21,000 watch, a US$15,000 jacket made of ostrich and more than US$6 million worth of real estate paid for in cash, Asonye said.

“A man in this courtroom believed the law did not apply to him – not tax law, not banking law,” Asonye said as he sketched out the evidence gathered by Mueller’s team in Manafort’s bank fraud and tax evasion trial.

Why Robert Mueller needs a win in the Paul Manafort trial

Manafort’s trial is the first arising from Mueller’s investigation into potential ties between Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and Russia. It opened with extraordinary anticipation amid unresolved questions about whether Trump associates coordinated with the Kremlin to tip the election in the president’s favour.

But it was clear from the outset that the case would not address that question: Prosecutors did not once reference Manafort’s work for the Trump campaign nor mention Mueller’s broader and ongoing investigation into Russian election interference. Mueller was not present in the courtroom.

Manafort, the lone American charged by Mueller who has opted to stand trial instead of cooperate with prosecutors, was described by his defence lawyer as a hugely successful international political consultant who left the details of his finances to others.

Additional reporting by Associated Press