Manafort Trial Update: Mistrial on 10 Counts, Guilty on 8 Counts
Tuesday, President Donald Trump called former campaign Chairman Paul Manafort a “good man” and again hammered Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe as a “witch hunt” less than an hour after Mr. Manafort was found guilty of bank and tax fraud.
“I must tell you that Paul Manafort’s a good man. … It does not involve me, but it’s a very sad thing that happened,” Trump told reporters in Charleston, WVa., after he landed there early Tuesday evening ahead of a planned rally.
“This had nothing to do with Russian collusion. … It’s a witch hunt, and it’s a disgrace. I feel very badly for Paul Manafort. He worked for Bob Dole. He worked for Ronald Reagan.”
When asked about former lawyer Michael Cohen, who pleaded guilty to 8 charges Tuesday, including campaign finance fraud stemming from his role in arranging hush money payments to two women who claimed they had affairs with the president before he ran for office, President Trump did not respond, though he did say at the outset of his remarks he felt baldy for “both.”
A judge declared a mistrial on 10 other counts after jurors failed to reach a unanimous verdict.
Mr. Manafort was found guilty on 5 counts of submitting false tax returns, 1 count of failing to report foreign bank and financial accounts, and 2 counts of bank fraud.
The jury deliberated for 4 days before announcing the verdict at the federal courthouse in Alexandria, Virginia.
Prosecutors spent more than 2 weeks presenting their case as they sought to prove Mr. Manafort concealed millions of dollars in offshore accounts from the IRS.
Mr. Manafort was charged with 18 counts of tax evasion, bank fraud and hiding foreign bank accounts in the first case brought to trial by special counsel Robert Mueller as part of the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 US Election. He plead not guilty to all the charges.
The trial carries major implications for the future of the Mueller’s investigation.
President Trump has repeatedly called the probe a “witch hunt” that hasn’t found evidence of Russian collusion with his campaign, and his allies in and out of the White House say the special counsel should wrap things up.
Prosecutors say Mr. Manafort collected $65-M in foreign bank accounts from Ys 2010 to 2014 and spent more than $15-M on luxury purchases in the same period, including high-end clothing, real estate, landscaping and other big-ticket items.
They also allege that Mr. Manafort lied to banks in order to take out more than $20-M in loans after his Ukrainian political work dried up in Y 2015, and they accused him of hiding the foreign bank accounts from federal authorities. Mr. Manafort received loans from the Federal Savings Bank after one of its executives sought a position in the Trump Campaign and administration, according to prosecutors.