WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump’s former 2016 campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, was convicted Tuesday on federal charges of tax fraud and bank fraud.
The jury that heard the case in a US district court in Alexandria, Virginia, found Manafort guilty of five counts of tax fraud, two counts of bank fraud and one count of concealing a foreign bank account, but deadlocked on 10 other counts.
Manafort had been charged by Special Counsel Robert Mueller and his team of prosecutors, who are conducting the so-called Russia probe, although none of the charges at this trial were specifically connected with Mueller’s investigation of alleged links between Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and the Kremlin.
The 12-member jury could not arrive at a verdict on 10 of the charges filed against Trump’s former campaign chief.
The jury’s decision came on the fourth day of deliberations and after the members had warned hours earlier that they would not be able to agree on at least one of the charges, although that number ultimately expanded to 10.
Now, Judge T.S. Ellis will have to set a sentencing date for Manafort on the 8 charges on which he was convicted and will also have to rule on what to do in the case of the 10 charges on which the jury could not agree.
Generally, if a jury cannot reach a verdict on a charge or charges in a trial, the court schedules a new trial on those charges and empanels a new jury.
Trump commented on the verdict rendered against his ex-campaign chief, saying that “This has nothing to do with Russian collusion. These are witch hunts and it’s a disgrace. This has nothing to do – it started out looking for Russians in our campaign and there were none.”
The president spoke briefly about the trial and took no questions from reporters upon landing in Charleston, West Virginia, for a rally.
He went on to say that “We continue the witch hunt,” and adding that “Paul Manafort is a good man ... it doesn’t involve me but it’s a very sad thing ... it had nothing to do with Russian collusion.”
Manafort was under house arrest from October 2017 until June 15, 2018, when he was sent to prison after having tried to influence at least two witnesses in his second trial, whereupon the judge presiding over that trial, due to commence on Sept. 17, cancelled his house arrest and ordered him to await trial in prison.
Since May 17, Mueller has been independently investigating the possible links between members of the Trump campaign and Russia, which US intelligence agencies accuse of interfering with the 2016 campaign to favor Trump over his rival, Hillary Clinton.
Manafort worked from 2006-2017 for several foreign governments, including the pro-Russian former president of Ukraine, Victor Yanukovich, and for Russian oligarchs, whom he helped improve their images in the US without properly registering his activities with US authorities, an omission that is a crime.
Manafort served as Trump’s campaign chairman from March-August 2016 but was forced to resign after it came to light that he had hidden the fact that he received payments of $12.7 million from Yanukovich.