Paul Manafort Found Guilty On Eight Counts

Robert Mueller and his legal team get their first victories in court.

Paul Manafort, the former campaign manager for President Trump, has been found guilty on eight of the eighteen counts against him, marking the first major success for the Special Counsel Robert Mueller:

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — Paul Manafort, President Trump’s former campaign chairman, was convicted on Tuesday in his financial fraud trial, bringing a dramatic end to a politically charged case that riveted the capital.

The verdict was a victory for the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, whose prosecutors built a case that Mr. Manafort hid millions of dollars in foreign accounts to evade taxes and lied to banks repeatedly to obtain $20 million in loans.

Mr. Manafort was convicted of five counts of tax fraud, two counts of bank fraud and one count of failure to disclose a foreign bank account. The jury was unable to reach a verdict on the remaining 10 counts, and the judge declared a mistrial on those charges.

Kevin Downing, a lawyer for Mr. Manafort, said his client was “evaluating all of his options at this point.”

Jason Maloni, Mr. Manafort’s spokesman, said, “We expect to appeal.” A spokesperson for Mr. Mueller’s office declined to comment.

The verdict was read out in United States District Court in Alexandria, Va., only minutes after Michael D. Cohen, Mr. Trump’s former fixer, pleaded guilty in federal court in Manhattan to violating campaign finance law and other charges.

Mr. Cohen made the extraordinary admission that he paid a pornographic film actress “at the direction of the candidate,” referring to Mr. Trump, to secure her silence about an affair she said she had with Mr. Trump.

Mr. Manafort’s trial did not touch directly on Mr. Mueller’s inquiry into Russian interference in the 2016 election or on whether Mr. Trump has sought to obstruct the investigation. But it was the first test of the special counsel’s ability to prosecute a case in a federal courtroom amid intense criticism from the president and his allies that the inquiry is a biased and unjustified witch hunt.

Before and during the trial, Mr. Trump both sought to defend Mr. Manafort as a victim of prosecutorial overreach and to distance himself from him, saying that Mr. Manafort had worked for him only relatively briefly.

The trial focused on Mr. Manafort’s personal finances, in particular the tens of millions of dollars he made advising a political party in Ukraine that backed pro-Russia policies.

Defense lawyers had argued that Rick Gates, Mr. Manafort’s former right-hand man and the government’s star witness, was the real mastermind of the frauds. Mr. Gates had been charged along with Mr. Manafort in the case, but pleaded guilty and agreed to testify against Mr. Manafort in exchange for a more lenient sentence.

The defense lawyers also suggested that Mr. Manafort had been targeted by prosecutors to pressure him into cooperating with Mr. Mueller’s inquiry into possible collusion by the Trump campaign with Russia in the 2016 election.

More from The Washington Post:

A jury has found former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort guilty after a three-week trial on tax and bank fraud charges — a major if not complete victory for special counsel Robert S. Mueller III as he continues to investigate the president’s associates.

The jury convicted Manafort on eight of the 18 counts against him. The jury said it was deadlocked on the other 10. U.S. District Court Judge T.S. Ellis declared a mistrial on those other charges.

Manafort was convicted on five counts of filing false tax returns, one count of not filing a required IRS form, and two bank fraud counts.

The verdict announced Tuesday comes as President Trump has stepped up his criticism of Mueller’s probe, publicly criticizing the investigation on a weekly basis. As the Manafort trial began, Trump called for Mueller’s probe to be shut down immediately.

Manafort’s guilty verdict may strengthen Mueller’s hand as he continues to investigate possible conspiracy and seeks an interview with the president; an acquittal could have led to a broader effort by conservatives to shut down the special counsel’s office.

The 18 charges in the Manafort trial centered around Manafort’s personal finances, and had little to do with the special counsel’s mandate of probing Russian interference in the 2016 election and whether any Trump associates conspired with those efforts.

But the trial was the first to emerge from Mueller’s probe, and as such it marked a significant public test of his work.

The jury deliberated for four days before announcing its verdict.

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. They said he hid millions of dollars in foreign bank accounts that went unreported to the IRS, and then later lied to banks in order to get millions of dollars in loans.

His lawyers had argued that Gates, not Manafort, was the real criminal, pointing to Gates’ admitted lies, theft, and infidelity. Gates pleaded guilty in February to lying to the FBI and conspiring against the United States, and has said he hopes to get a lesser prison sentence by cooperating against Manafort.

Prosecutors, in turn, told the jury that the most compelling evidence in the case were the dozens of documents, many of them emails, showing Manafort oversaw the false statements to the IRS and banks.

Manafort, 69, called no witnesses at all, as his lawyer argued prosecutors had failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he intended to defraud the government or banks. Manafort’s lawyers repeatedly suggested their client might not have known the law.

While the charges against Manafort are unrelated to the underlying Russia investigation, the fact that Mueller and his legal team were able to obtain convictions in their first effort against any of the parties involved in the Trump campaign, and it tends to put the lie to the President’s claims that the Mueller investigation is a baseless “witch hunt,” although it has been apparent from the start that this is far from the case. Even just on the charges that he has been found guilty of, Manafort has the potential of facing as much as 30 years in Federal prison, which at his age would essentially mean dying in prison.

This also isn’t the end of Manafort’s legal troubles. In addition to the possibility that Mueller and his team will seek to retry Mueller on the ten charges where the jury was unable to reach a verdict, he also faces a second trial next month in Washington, D.C. on charges related to the lobbying work he did for the former pro-Russian government in Ukraine as well as other foreign interests. Given that, the possibility that he could reach a plea deal with Mueller is still on the table. If that happens, then the legal vultures circling around the President are going to become even more numerous.

FILED UNDER: Crime, Donald Trump, Law and the Courts, Politicians, US Politics,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Stormy Dragon says:

    One hour until the rally.

    I’m expecting an epic freak out.

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  2. Michael Reynolds says:

    John Oliver calls it Stupid Watergate. Now we also have Stupid Sopranos.

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  3. Stormy Dragon says:

    Trump supporter, Rep. Duncan Hunter just got indicted too.

    Man, this is the best infrastructure week ever!

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  4. An Interested Party says:

    One hour until the rally.

    I’m expecting an epic freak out.

    Outside of the cult, there’s no way to gaslight people about all of this bad news…how long until Republicans are put into an untenable position…

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  5. Jen says:

    Duncan Hunter was indicted today too.

    Many Are Getting Arrested, indeed.

    Edit: Just noticed Stormy beat me to that news. So, I’ll add that there are more than twice as many pieces of evidence being entered in Manafort’s second upcoming trial as there were for this one. This autumn should be interesting.

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  6. Jim Brown 32 says:

    Hey Cult 45s: F#:K Yo Feelings

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  7. Gustopher says:

    On only 8 of 18 counts? Not even half? I think a proper Trump supporter would know to round this down to not convicted of anything! Vindicated!

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  8. Scott says:

    @Gustopher: Convicted on 8 counts. Notice, however, found Not Guilty on exactly zero counts.

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  9. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Jen:
    The first two Congresspeople to endorse Trump have now been charged with corruption. I hope investigators are also checking their accounts for an influx of rubles.

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  10. Tyrell says:

    Who is next to be dragged before Mueller’s throne? Some construction worker? A school bus driver? Neighborhood kids running a lemonade stand?
    A friend of mine was recently the victim of a scam involving their bank account. The police more or less shrugged it off. Where is the justice here? Who helps out the average working class folks when they are victims?
    Look at the carnage every weekend in Chicago and other big cities. Why doesn’t Mueller help those people out?
    All this time and money being spent. Please tell how it helps me. I am just trying to get by day to day.
    How about it, Director Mueller?

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  11. An Interested Party says:

    A friend of mine was recently the victim of a scam involving their bank account. The police more or less shrugged it off. Where is the justice here? Who helps out the average working class folks when they are victims?

    Oh sweetie…if you voted for and/or support Trump, the ultimate victim of a scam is you…

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  12. Stormy Dragon says:

    @Gustopher:

    On only 8 of 18 counts? Not even half? I think a proper Trump supporter would know to round this down to not convicted of anything! Vindicated!

    Actual Federalist headline:

    Federal Jury Fails To Convict Paul Manafort On Majority Of Counts, Finds Him Guilty On 8 Counts Of Fraud

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  13. Kathy says:

    I really hope the stress, anger and frustration he must be feeling, don’t cause El Cheeto a stroke or a heart attack.

    It would be a shame if he doesn’t live long enough to be disgraced (more than he’s done all by himself, that is).

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  14. Lounsbury says:

    @Tyrell: So, the “Look a squirrel!”gambit?

    Or are you arguing for the nationalisation of your state level courts and local law enforcement in a stranger non sequitor?

    The sheer idiocy of the pretension there is some liaison between “a construction worker” and the former director of the Trump campaign with corrupt relations including bank fraud to Russian backed Ukraianian entities (and doubtless in the DC trial, Russians themselves shall emerge), is really quite amusing.

    As Dezinformatsia, it’s rather incompetent. Is that due to you being rather dim or simply incompetent and desperate for spin?

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  15. Scott says:

    @Tyrell: In one sense I agree with you. This will not help you directly. Here, however, is how it will: White collar crime is rampant in this country. You are being ripped off in more ways than one. The President and Congress are continually pulling a con on you. They borrowed trillions of dollars to give to the wealthly which you will pay through cuts to your Social Security and Medicare. The President is presiding over the looting of this country just like he looted his creditors, vendors, and companies. Cohen and Manafort are just one manifestation of the crimes. Stop being conned, Tyrell and insist that the criminal wealthy get investigated and put in jail.

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  16. Scott says:

    @Stormy Dragon: This headline is getting a lot of mockery.

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  17. steve says:

    I was so wrong. I was sure that there would be one holdout Trump supporter. Evidence must have really been solid. So, we now have the first witch conviction. Should have just checked to see if he weighs the same as a duck.

    Steve

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  18. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Tyrell:
    Oh, Tyrell, you dropped the mask, buddy. Your lovable dummy act is a bit ragged.

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  19. Stormy Dragon says:

    Trump just told the rally his mom gestated the greatest turkey.

    Which I guess is metaphorically true.

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  20. Jen says:

    @steve: +1 for any Monty Python reference.

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  21. MarkedMan says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Oh, Tyrell, you dropped the mask, buddy. Your lovable dummy act is a bit ragged.

    You wouldn’t have to give me much in the way of odds before I would take a bet on whether Pearce and Tyrell are sock puppets of the same person…

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  22. Michael Reynolds says:

    @MarkedMan:
    Interesting.

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  23. Sleeping Dog says:

    re: Duncan Hunter. Poor Margaret, poor Dunc, doesn’t everyone realize how hard it is to live on a congress critters salary? You can’t accept bribes, you can’t spend campaign funds on yourself… What has the swamp come to.

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  24. Gustopher says:

    @MarkedMan: Fine, fine, it’s me. I use a VPN to change my IP, and I am both Tyrell and James Pearce. And someone else you don’t even suspect.

    I’m surprised it took anyone this long to figure out. Did you know that if you transliterate Tyrell and James Pearce into Cyrillic, then add up the Unicode values of all the characters, then modulo it by 43 (after Bush the Younger), it’s the same in each case?

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  25. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Gustopher:
    You swore you’d never admit that you were me. I would feel betrayed, were I not secretly you.

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  26. Sleeping Dog says:

    @Gustopher:
    @Michael Reynolds:

    …no one knows your a dog. Woof

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  27. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Tyrell: Really? Wa! Unforking believable. And you can’t even blame it on being past your bedtime…

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  28. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Kathy: It’s worse than that; we’d get President Pence and the rest of the issues with Trump would gradually fall of everyone’s radar. Maybe even before November. Trump stroking out may be the best thing that could happen for the GOP.

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  29. Ebenezer_Arvigenius says:

    Is there a list of the charges that didn’t go through somewhere?

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  30. MarkedMan says:

    @Gustopher:

    And someone else you don’t even suspect.

    You’re MarkedMan, aren’t you? I shoulda node!

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  31. Kathy says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    Same difference. If El Cheeto has a stroke (obvious cruel joke skipped), Pence et al would invoke the 25th amendment and have an orderly transition of power.

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  32. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Kathy: Ummmm… Yeah, that’s kind of my point–Same policies, same actions, same beliefs, same goals (Trump doesn’t have any of his own, remember), but none of the toxicity.

    Now if this is what you guys are looking for, laissez les bons temps rouller. MAGA! Viva Pence!

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  33. Blue Galangal says:

    @An Interested Party: The Washington Post has an interesting tidbit up at the moment on what Trump’s Twitter feed looked like yesterday as the news broke. Insulated, indeed.

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  34. Tyrell says:

    @Scott: Thanks for the information. I am against white coller crime, but I see a lot of urgent problems.
    And who helps my friend, who lost an amount equal to a month’s salary in a scam? Police won’t follow it up. The bank dropped the ball, but they won’t help out either. He can’t afford a lawyer to investigate. I did not realize how many people get scammed now. Many of them seem to be young people or older people. Mueller needs to help out regular people too.

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