Published: Wed, August 22, 2018
Sci-tech | By Patricia Wade

Trump's ex-campaign chief Manafort guilty of fraud

Trump's ex-campaign chief Manafort guilty of fraud

Democratic strategist Paul Begala warned conservative pundit Jason Miller that things are going to get much worse for President Donald Trump.

While the jury was unable to reach a verdict on 10 counts, prompting the judge to declare a partial mistrial, Manafort was found guilty on the eight remaining charges.

This is the fourth day of deliberations for the federal jury in Alexandria, Virginia.

Manafort faces up to 305 years in prison.

Barely minutes after the Manafort verdict was announced, Trump's longtime personal lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen pleaded guilty in Manhattan court to eight counts, including fraud and campaign finance violations.

The Manafort trial is the first to stem from special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian election meddling and any ties to Trump associates, although the trial did not involve charges related to work on the campaign - something President Trump and his allies have been careful to note.

U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III encouraged the panel to continue deliberating. But attorneys for Manafort suggested that Mueller's team had improperly ensnared their client in its probe, as the case did not have anything to do with Russia's interference in the 2016 election.

The verdict Wednesday concludes almost four days of deliberations and a three week trial where prosecutors from Mueller's team presented 27 witnesses and roughly 400 documents as evidence.

Over two weeks of testimony, more than two dozen witnesses, including his former right hand man Rick Gates, as well as his former bookkeeper and accountants, testified against Manafort.

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Earlier they asked Ellis what would happen if they can't reach a verdict on a count, and Ellis said to keep working on it.

Manafort's attorney Kevin Downing argued jurors should be given a new verdict form that would give them the option to be undecided on the charges.

"It is your duty to agree upon a verdict if you are able to do so without violating your individual conscience", Ellis said. Prosecutors say he hid tens of millions of dollars in foreign income from when he acted as a political adviser in Ukraine.

The trial of Manafort is now in its fourth week.

One count on which the jury was hung was a $5.5 million loan that did not close.

Manafort faces a second trial in September in Washington DC, on charges that he failed to register as a lobbyist for the Ukraine government, and conspired to tamper with witnesses in that case. When those consulting jobs became scarce, prosecutors said, Manafort lied to banks in order to receive loans to fund his lavish lifestyle.

Throughout the trial, the defense called into question whether Manafort's signature, which appeared on numerous bank documents the prosecution submitted as evidence against him, was genuine.

Manafort allegedly stashed millions of dollars in secret foreign bank accounts, many of them based in Cyprus.

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