President Donald Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort has been found guilty on eight of 18 counts in his fraud trial in Virginia. A U.S. District Court judge declared a mistrial on the remaining 10 counts Tuesday, after the jury failed to reach unanimity on those.
Manafort was found guilty on five tax fraud charges, one charge of hiding a foreign bank account, and two bank fraud charges – all felonies. The tax fraud charges come with three-year jail terms. His failure to declare a foreign bank account could cost him five years in the slammer, and the two bank fraud verdicts come with 30-year terms each.
Manafort, 68, is looking at spending the rest of his life in prison if these verdicts are allowed to stand. He had faced more than 200 years in prison on all 18 counts.
On Tuesday morning – Day 4 of deliberation – Reporters Covering Manafort’s bank and tax fraud trial began to hyperventilate with word the jury had handed Judge T.S. Ellis a note asking, “if we cannot come to a consensus on a single count” against Trump’s former campaign manager, how should they fill in the verdict form? “What does that mean for the final verdict,” they asked.
The question was considered not good news for Manafort, suggesting jury is in agreement on 17 of the 18 counts, and not in his favor.
Manafort faced the 18 counts of bank and tax fraud in the first case that Special Counsel Robert Mueller brought to trial as part of his wide-ranging probe of 2016 Russian election interference.
The six-man, six-woman jury had spent seven hours debating Thursday, and all day Friday before throwing in the towel and leaving for the weekend. The judge, meanwhile, rebuffed media efforts to get identities of jury members, citing threats the judge said he too has received.
While the jury was deliberating the fate of Trump’s former campaign manager, the President of the United States tried to influence their decision:
“I think the whole Manafort trial is very sad,” Trump said in response to a reporters’ questions as he departed for fundraising events on Long Island on Friday.
“He worked for me for a very short period of time,” Trump said, fake-news-ily, adding: “he happens to be a very good person.”
Asked if he might pardon Manafort, who is facing decades in prison on bank and tax-fraud charges, Trump said “I don’t talk about that” then did by adding, “I think it’s very sad what they’ve done to Paul Manafort.”
Trump’s had his thumbs all over the scale throughout this trial. Back in August, Al Capone, the Chicago mobster dead more than 70 years, was trending worldwide on Twitter when Trump tweeted that authorities treated the gangster better than they were treating his former campaign chief. That happened on Day 2 of Manafort’s trial — not related to Robert Mueller’s Russia election tamper investigation, though that distinction was lost on Trump.
The charges against Manafort were brought as result of information Mueller’s team unearthed in its probe of Russian election tampering and possible collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign.
A judge jailed Manafort back June over allegations of witness tampering in a separate case set to go to trial next month in Washington DC over his allegedly failing to register as a lobbyist for the Ukraine government.