Jury convicts Manafort on eight felony counts

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ALEXANDRIA, Va. — Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort was found guilty in a Virginia courtroom on Tuesday of eight charges of bank and tax fraud. 

The jury found Manafort guilty on five charges of filing false income tax returns, one count of failing to report foreign bank accounts and two counts of bank fraud. 

Judge T.S. Ellis III declared a mistrial on the remaining 10 counts — three counts of failing to report foreign bank accounts, five counts of bank fraud conspiracy and two counts of bank fraud.

Manafort looked stunned after the verdict was read, and the courtoom was silent and still. He winked at his wife, Kathleen Manafort, as he was escorted out of the room after Ellis adjourned the proceedings.

Kathleen Manafort, who had sat behind her husband in the first row each day, was stone faced as the verdict was read.

The one guilty count of failing to report foreign bank accounts carries a maximum of five years in prison and each count of bank fraud carries a maximum sentence of 30 years.

{mosads}The decision is a victory for special counsel Robert Mueller’s team of prosecutors, which faced its first test in court on the Manafort case. Russia and the 2016 election, however, were not major parts of the trial against Manafort. 

It was also part of a difficult day for President Trump, who saw his former campaign chairman convicted on the same day that his former personal lawyer and fixer, Michael Cohen, pleaded guilty in a New York courtroom to eight counts related to charges of tax evasion, false statements to a financial institution and and illegal campaign contributions.

Both of these stories broke as Trump took off on Air Force One for a campaign rally in West Virginia. 

Trump did not answer questions about the Cohen guilty plea from reporters on the tarmac at Joint Base Andrews in suburban Maryland. 

Manafort’s lead defense attorney Kevin Downing told reporters outside the courtroom that his client was “disappointed” by the verdict and is evaluating all of his options. Downing also said Manafort got a “fair trial.”

“Mr. Manafort is disappointed of not getting acquittals all the way through or complete hung jury on all counts,” Downing said. “However, he would like to thank Judge Ellis for granting him a fair trial, thank the jury for their very long and hard-fought deliberations. He is evaluating all of his options at this point.”

The verdict follows more than two weeks of testimony in which the prosecution called 27 witnesses and submitted 388 documents into evidence in an effort to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Manafort orchestrated schemes to avoid paying taxes on income he earned working as a political consultant in Ukraine and defrauded banks to obtain loans when the money dried up.

Manafort’s defense did not call witnesses during the trial, and Manafort chose not to testify on his own behalf.

Trump, in several tweets during the Manafort trial, criticized Mueller’s investigation as a witch hunt, and also slammed the prosecution of his former campaign chairman.

In one tweet, he suggested Manafort was being treated worse than American gangster Al Capone. He also called his former campaign chairman a “good guy” when speaking to the press.

Before declaring a mistrial on the 10 counts, Ellis asked each of the jurors individually if any thought there was any possibility or probability that they could reach an agreement. Facing the judge, each juror said “no.”

Ellis called Manafort to the podium and told him he was ordering a pre-sentencing report to be done, which he will use to determine his sentence at a later time. He told Manafort a probation officer would be asking him to provide information about his family history, education, work experience, criminal history and any health problems.

Manafort did not speak in court. Ellis told him he would have an opportunity to address the court at sentencing.

Richard Westling, one of Manafort’s five attorneys, asked Ellis for 30 days to file a motion for acquittal or appeal instead of the 14 days allowed under the court rules.

Ellis, a Reagan appointee, asked federal prosecutor Greg Andres if he had any objections to the request. Andres said his initial reaction was not to object but that he will file any objections if he changes his mind.

Ellis said he will wait until noon on Friday to rule on the request, but said he will probably grant it.

Prosecutors were also asked by Ellis about whether they would seek to bring charges against Manafort again given the mistrial on 10 counts.

“Think you can decide in 10 days?” Ellis asked.

Andres said they could do it sooner.

“Let’s make it Aug. 29,” Ellis said.

Manafort faces a second trial in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia in September on separate charges that include conspiracy, money laundering, failing to register as a foreign lobbyist, and making false and misleading statements to federal agents.

Tags Donald Trump Manafort trial Paul Manafort Robert Mueller Russia Investigation Special counsel

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