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Legal expert: Manafort is banking on pardon from Trump

Legal expert and Hill contributor Jonathan Turley said on Wednesday that former Trump campaign chairman Paul ManafortPaul John ManafortThere was Trump-Russia collusion — and Trump pardoned the colluder Treasury: Manafort associate passed 'sensitive' campaign data to Russian intelligence Hunter Biden blasts Trump in new book: 'A vile man with a vile mission' MORE is banking on a pardon from the president after being found guilty on eight charges of bank and tax fraud.

"Even a 10-year sentence at his age could be a life sentence," Turley, who has an op-ed in The Hill on the issue, told Hill.TV's Krystal Ball and Buck Sexton on "Rising."

"For Paul Manafort, the difference between 10 years and 20 years may seem immaterial," Turley said.

A federal jury on Tuesday found Manafort, 69, guilty on eight of 18 charges. Judge T.S. Ellis III declared a mistrial on the remaining 10 counts.

"There's only one person that can give him what he wants and likely needs — and that is a walk-away — and only Donald TrumpDonald TrumpProject Veritas surveilled government officials to expose anti-Trump sentiments: report Cheney: Fox News has 'a particular obligation' to refute election fraud claims The Memo: What now for anti-Trump Republicans? MORE can do that with a pardon," Turley said. "So I think Manafort is sticking with this pardon strategy. He wants to see if he can get the one thing he needs the most."

Tuesday's conviction was a win for special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerWhy a special counsel is guaranteed if Biden chooses Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG Barr taps attorney investigating Russia probe origins as special counsel CNN's Toobin warns McCabe is in 'perilous condition' with emboldened Trump MORE. However, the charges against Manafort were not directly related to the 2016 presidential campaign.

Manafort will face a second federal criminal trial in Washington next month on charges such as money laundering, conspiracy, failing to register as a foreign lobbyist, and making false statements and misleading federal agents.

Trump ramped up his rhetoric against Mueller's Russia probe during Manafort's trial, referring to the investigation as a "witch hunt" and saying Manafort was being treated worse than mobster Al Capone.

Turley went on to say that a pardon for Manafort could be politically risky for the president ahead of November's midterms, when Democrats could take back the House, raising the possibility of impeachment proceedings.

"With the odds of impeachment growing with the possible takeover of the Democratic House, a pardon of Paul Manafort would not go well," Turley said.

"Trump could thread that needle and pardon him for everything but Russian collusion-related crimes," he said, while noting that critics might see that as Trump obstructing Mueller's probe.

— Julia Manchester