Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 June 2019

Jury in Manafort case enters fourth day of deliberations

Former Trump campaign chairman faces 18 criminal charges

Kevin Downing, center, with Richard Westling, left, and Thomas Zehnle, right, with the defense team for Paul Manafort. AP
Kevin Downing, center, with Richard Westling, left, and Thomas Zehnle, right, with the defense team for Paul Manafort. AP

Jurors in the fraud trial of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort are set to begin their fourth day of deliberations on Tuesday.

On Monday, the 12 jurors ended their day in federal court in Alexandria, Virginia, at 6:15 p.m., working at least 45 minutes longer than on previous days.

Mr Manafort faces 18 criminal charges including for allegedly falsifying his tax returns, committing bank fraud and failing to file reports of foreign bank accounts.

It is the first trial stemming from Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 US election, although the charges largely predate Mr Manafort's five months working on President Donald Trump's successful campaign.

But a Manafort conviction would undermine efforts by Mr Trump and some Republican lawmakers to paint Mr Mueller's Russia inquiry as a political witch hunt. An acquittal would be a setback for the special counsel.

Aaron Wolfson, a former prosecutor in New York, noted that it was not uncommon for juries to be out "five, six or seven days" in complicated cases.

"I think the jurors all know how serious this case is and they want to take the time and go through the evidence and the charges," said Mr Wolfson. "Staying until 6:15 shows they’re working hard, and there was something they wanted to finish."

Over two weeks of testimony, prosecutors presented evidence that Mr Manafort evaded US income taxes on $16 million (Dh58,760,000) he earned as a political consultant for pro-Russian politicians in Ukraine and then lied to banks to secure $20 million in loans after his Ukrainian income dried up and he needed cash.

Mr Manafort's former right-hand man, Rick Gates, took the stand for the prosecution, along with 26 other witnesses. Gates, also a former Trump campaign aide, was indicted along with Mr Manafort but pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate with the government.

Jurors also were given 388 exhibits, including some that showed how Mr Manafort spent money on luxuries including a $15,000 ostrich jacket, a $21,000 watch and $6 million in US real estate.

The defense rested its case without presenting any witnesses, although Mr Manafort attorney Kevin Downing raised credibility issues in his cross-examination of Mr Gates.


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Updated: August 21, 2018 04:06 PM