Paul Manafort Was Found Guilty On 8 Felony Counts, But We Might See Him In Court Again
On Tuesday, Aug. 21, jurors in Alexandria, Virginia delivered a final verdict in the high-profile trial of Paul Manafort almost a year after President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman was indicted. The trial, which started on Tuesday, July 31, centered on 18 counts of bank and tax fraud. Paul Manafort's trial verdict has been partially released with the jury coming to a consensus.
Per CNN, Manafort has been found guilty on eight counts: five counts of tax fraud, two counts of bank fraud, and one count of hiding foreign bank accounts. Judge T.S. Ellis declared a mistrial for the other 10 counts that the jury could not agree on.
Manafort, who was indicted in October 2017, is among four former Trump campaign members indicted by FBI Special Counsel Robert Mueller in his investigation into links between the campaign and Russia in the 2016 presidential election. Manafort is the first to stand trial as a result of Mueller's investigation, which has already yielded about 30 indictments and plea deals, many of them Russian nationals.
Jurors were sent to deliberate a verdict on Thursday, Aug. 16. Judge T.S. Ellis reportedly asked jurors on Monday, Aug. 20 to affirm that they'd had no contact with others about the case and had not done any of their own research about it. Ellis also held two sealed meetings with the prosecution and defense while the jury continued its deliberation, details of which he promised would be unsealed at the end of the day.
The case has been unusual, if nothing else, for the high-profile figures who've gone against norms to comment publicly on the trial. On Aug. 17, as the jury was in its second day of deliberations, Trump himself jumped to Manafort's defense, something Manafort's attorney Kevin Downing was all too eager to highlight. The effort to promote his client's support from the president, according to legal experts, might be an ethics violation as the jury is still in deliberations.
While this trial didn't pertain directly to his campaign work, Manafort notably had served the Trump campaign during the infamous Trump Tower meeting in June 2016. During the trial, Manafort's business partner, Rick Gates, also a member of the Trump campaign, testified against him. Gates was also charged along with Manafort but had agreed to a plea deal with Mueller to cooperate.
Despite the fact that the trial didn't center on Manafort's work on the Trump campaign, it was highly anticipated and followed given that it was the first one to come out of the FBI probe. To that end, the case's outcome was seen as having bearing on potential future cases that may stem from the investigation. A guilty verdict was expected to add credence to an investigation that the president has repeatedly called a "Witch Hunt," whereas a "not guilty" finding would have aligned with Trump's messaging.
Given the jury's finding of the eight guilty counts, Manafort it potentially facing a lot of prison time.
But while the waiting may be over for Manafort on this verdict, he can't breathe any sighs of relief yet. He is still due to appear before federal court in Washington D.C. to hear his case on foreign lobbying and money laundering, in a trial that begins on Sept. 17. Per CNN, Mueller's team reportedly has three times the evidence presented in the first case to present in the next one.
Based on the judge's ruling of a mistrial, the former campaign chairman for Trump will likely have to appear in court again to address these other 10 counts — on top of his scheduled September court date.