Trump's ex-campaign chief Manafort to face two trials this year

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Paul Manafort, ex-campaign chairman of U.S. President Donald Trump, on Thursday pleaded not guilty to 18 criminal charges, including bank and tax fraud in federal court in Alexandria, Virginia. The trial was set to begin on July 10.

Prosecutors said in court that they planned to call 20 to 25 witnesses for the trial and the arguments could last up to two weeks. If convicted, Manafort will face up to 305 years in jail.

Manafort will go through two separate trials this year. Another trial on federal charges in Washington D.C. is scheduled to begin on Sept. 17 and likely to stretch for several weeks.

In Washington D.C., Manafort is charged with making false statements about his foreign lobbying work for pro-Russia Ukrainian politicians, and engaging in a money laundering conspiracy. These charges would bring a likely sentence of 15 to 20 years in prison if Manafort was found guilty.

All charges, which Manafort has denied in both courts, were levied during the ongoing Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential elections and possible collusion with the Trump campaign.

Manafort's longtime business associate Rick Gates, also a former Trump campaign aide, has pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy against the United States and making false statements to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

"Manafort and Gates generated tens of millions of dollars in income as a result of their Ukraine work," a February indictment said, "From approximately 2006 through the present, Manafort and Gates engaged in a scheme to hide income from United States authorities, while enjoying the use of the money."

Trump has repeatedly denied any collusion between his campaign and Moscow during the elections.

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