11 July 2024

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (Reuters) – Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort was convicted on Tuesday of eight counts of financial wrongdoing, giving Special Counsel Robert Mueller a victory in the first trial arising from his investigation of Russia’s role in the 2016 US election.

After almost four days of deliberations, a 12-member jury found Manafort guilty on two counts of bank fraud, five counts of tax fraud and one charge of failing to disclose foreign bank accounts.

The jury in US federal court in Alexandria, Virginia, said it could not reach a verdict on 10 of the 18 counts with which Manafort was charged. Judge T.S. Ellis declared a mistrial on those counts.

While the charges against Manafort mostly predate his work on President Donald Trump’s 2016 election campaign, the guilty verdict triggered an outburst from Trump, who has repeatedly sought to distance himself from Manafort while denouncing the Mueller investigation as a “witch hunt”.

“Paul Manafort is a good man. … It doesn’t involve me, but I still feel – you know, it’s a very sad thing that happened,” Trump said before a rally in West Virginia on Tuesday night. “This has nothing to do with Russian collusion.”

Manafort’s conviction on the eight counts came in the same hour that Trump’s former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, pleaded guilty in New York to campaign finance violations and other charges.

Manafort stood quietly while the verdict was being read by the clerk. It represented a stunning fall for Manafort, a well-known figure in Republican politics for decades.

Manafort’s lawyer, Kevin Downing, told reporters afterward that his client was disappointed in the verdict and was evaluating his options. “He is trying to soak it all in,” Downing told Reuters.

Mueller’s office declined comment on the verdict.

Prosecutors accused Manafort of hiding from US tax authorities $16 million he earned as a political consultant for pro-Russian politicians in Ukraine to fund an opulent lifestyle and then lying to banks to secure $20 million in loans after his Ukrainian income dried up and he needed cash.

The two bank fraud charges on which he was convicted each carry a potential prison term of up to 30 years. But several sentencing experts predicted Manafort, 69, would receive a prison term of about 10 years.