Trump ex-aide Manafort pleads not guilty again

ALEXANDRIA: US President Donald Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort again pleaded not guilty on Thursday to criminal charges in the investigation into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 election and will face the first of two trials in July.
Manafort pleaded not guilty in a Virginia courtroom to additional charges ranging from bank fraud to filing false tax returns that were brought by Robert Mueller, the US special counsel for the Russia probe.
Manafort also pleaded not guilty last week in Washington to related charges, including conspiracy to launder money, and failing to register as a foreign agent for the pro-Russia Ukrainian government of former President Viktor Yanukovich.
US District Judge T S Ellis, based in Alexandria, Virginia, on Thursday set a tentative trial date for July 10. Manafort’s trial in Washington begins in September.
Mueller is investigating alleged Russian interference in the election, possible obstruction of justice and alleged financial crimes by Manafort and others.
Trump has denied his campaign colluded with Russia, and Moscow says it did not try to interfere in the election.
None of the charges against Manafort make reference to alleged Russian interference in the election nor the accusations of collusion between Moscow and Trump’s campaign.
Manafort has been under increasing pressure to cooperate with Mueller’s probe, especially after his former business partner and former Trump aide Rick Gates pleaded guilty last month to lying to investigators and conspiring to defraud the United States.
Prosecutors in Washington have alleged that Manafort laundered more than $30 million and duped banks into lending money.
They say he used funds from secret offshore accounts to enjoy a life of luxury.
Also on Thursday, another of Trump’s former campaign managers, Corey Lewandowski, was interviewed for a second time by the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee, which has its own investigation into possible Russian election meddling. — Reuters