Although the charges have nothing to do with Mueller's primary goal of investigating Russian interference in the 2016 USA presidential election including possible collusion with the Trump campaign, the stakes are extremely high for both the president and the special counsel.
The charges largely predate the five months Mr Manafort worked on the Trump team in 2016, some of them as campaign chairman. Manafort was no stranger to politics, having also served as an adviser on the campaigns of President Ford, President Reagan, President H.W. Bush, and Bob Dole.
Manafort is accused of 32 counts of financial offences, including bank fraud and tax evasion, tied to his alleged laundering of more than $30 million. Previously, he tried to challenge Mueller's prosecutorial authority, a move that included filing a civil lawsuit against the Justice Department.
As a result of their work with Ukraine, Manafort and Gates made tens of millions of dollars between 2006 and 2015.
Instead, the trial will center on Manafort's Ukrainian consulting work and only briefly touch on his involvement with the president's campaign.
Just as an acquittal would be bad for Mueller, a Manafort conviction would give Mueller's team juice to keep their investigation going.
The focus on Manafort's personal dealings, rather than Russian Federation, aren't surprising considering the Special Counsel indictment didn't mention the Kremlin, the 2016 presidential election or collusion a single time.
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Former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort arrives for arraignment on a third superseding indictment against him by Special Counsel Robert Mueller on charges of witness tampering, at U.S. District Court in Washington, U.S. June 15, 2018.
Mueller has indicted a total of 32 people so far in connection with his probe into whether any members of Trump's election campaign colluded with Russian Federation to help get the NY real estate tycoon into the White House.
Given the strength of the evidence, however, some legal experts have suggested Mr Manafort may be banking on an eventual pardon from Mr Trump, who has called his former campaign chairman a "nice guy" who has been treated unfairly. But he was ensnared in the Russian Federation investigation a year ago after Mueller began examining ties between Trump campaign staff and Russian Federation.
Prosecutors working with Mueller dropped almost two dozen criminal fraud charges against Gates, who reached a plea deal.
Manafort's Virginia trial is expected to last around three weeks.
Mr. Manafort said the exhibits were prejudicial and irrelevant to the case.
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.
Lawyers working for special counsel Robert Mueller plan to call witnesses they say demonstrate where Manafort spent his allegedly ill-gotten gains: custom-made suits; Persian rugs; landscaping fees; Land Rovers and Mercedes-Benz vehicles; and season tickets to the New York Yankees, among other items.