The US President's former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, is to stand trial on tax evasion and bank fraud charges (file photo).
"This really does not go to the reason the special counsel was appointed in the first place, which was a Justice Department conflict of interest, with respect to Russia's interference in the election, and any Trump campaign participation", said McCarthy.
But Zehnle disputed prosecutors' account that Manafort was trying to hide his earnings by storing money in bank accounts in Cyprus.
At the same time, Mueller's team continues to press the president's legal team for an interview with the commander in chief.
The trial is expected to drag on for at least three weeks, with jury selection for the case beginning on Tuesday.
Prosecutors have said they don't plan to offer evidence related to the Russian Federation case, and that references to Manafort's association with the Trump campaign will be limited.
Paul Manafort faces 18 criminal counts, including bank fraud, and could face up to 30 years in jail if found guilty.
But prosecutors' star witness is likely to be Gates, who worked closely with Manafort in Ukraine and later followed him into Trump's campaign as deputy chairman.
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He said that arrangement was not Manafort's doing but was instead the preferred method of payment of the supporters of the pro-Russia Ukrainian political party who were paying his consulting fees.
Yet the trial also contains pitfalls for Trump.
"It's about Mr. Manafort placing his trust in the wrong person", Zehnle said.
Expected to be a main witness, Gates was Manafort's right-hand man for years and has knowledge of their offshore accounts and work for Deripaska and in Ukraine.
The high-profile trial is the first to arise out of Mueller's investigation into the Trump campaign's alleged collusion with Russian Federation.
"There was No Collusion (except by Crooked Hillary and the Democrats)!"
Manafort's lawyers are attempting to block the 51 exhibits detailing this work from court, claiming the evidence is "irrelevant, prejudicial and unnecessarily time-consuming evidence", Bloomberg reports, but Mueller's team say the documents are needed to prove the full scope of Manafort's earnings. That trial, set in the District of Columbia, involves allegations that the longtime political consultant acted as an unregistered foreign agent for Ukrainian interests and made false statements to the United States government.
Among them is former Manafort associate Rick Gates, who in February pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy and lying to investigators.
A Manafort conviction would give momentum to Mueller, who has indicted or secured guilty pleas from 32 people and three companies since the probe started 14 months ago. One of those companies has pleaded not guilty and is fighting the allegations in federal court in Washington.