Now, Paul Manafort is a defendant, and this time his team is made up of lawyers, not political operatives, fighting to keep him out of prison.
It's a significant milestone for the probe, which began exactly two years ago as an Federal Bureau of Investigation counterintelligence inquiry into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
The trial will give the public the most detailed glimpse yet into a part of the Mueller investigation.
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.
The case has been called the first test of Mueller's investigation, but McCarthy said it's "really not".
Prosecutors accuse Manafort, 69, of working as an unregistered lobbyist for pro-Russian politicians in Ukraine, laundering more than $30 million in income and deceiving banks to secure millions of dollars more in loans.
He is scheduled to go on trial in the USA capital in September on separate charges brought by Mueller of conspiracy, money laundering and failing to register as an agent of a foreign government. Manafort has pleaded not guilty in both cases.
If Manafort is acquitted, "it will benefit President Trump tremendously, because it will cast into doubt all of the legitimacy of the process that is occurring", said Joshua Dressler, a professor of criminal law and criminal procedure at Ohio State University.
Manafort has pleaded not guilty to all the charges. Earlier this month, the judge denied a bid by Manafort to move the case out of Alexandria. Prosecutors, though, are recommending 8 to 10 years.
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President Trump has wavered between showing sympathy for Mr Manafort and trying to distance himself.
Two Democratic consultants who worked with Manafort in Ukraine, Tad Devine and Daniel Rabin, are set to testify against him. His wife sat behind him in the courtroom.
Manafort's defense team has argued any mention of Trump could be seized on by jurors who have an unfavorable view of the president. "They've gone back 12 years to find things about somebody, and I don't think it's right", Trump said.
Mueller's team said it would not present evidence at the trial in the Washington suburb of Alexandria, Virginia, about possible campaign collusion with Russian Federation, potentially saving it for a second Manafort trial in Washington in September.
Manafort was indicted along with Gates in Mueller's wide-ranging investigation, but he is the only American charged to opt for a trial instead of co-operating with the government.
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.
Prosecutors say they will introduce evidence that a chairman of one of the banks allowed Manafort to file inaccurate loan information in exchange for a role on the Republican campaign and the promise of a job in the Trump administration that never materialised.
In Zehnle's retelling it was Gates who was the point person for Manafort's book-keepers and tax preparers.
The indictment against Manafort says $75 million flowed through offshore accounts controlled by Manafort and his former business partner Rick Gates.
He faces additional charges in district court in Washington DC.