Manafort convicted on 8 counts; mistrial declared on 10 other charges

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ALEXANDRIA, Va. — A federal jury in Virginia convicted Paul Manafort, President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman, on eight felony counts on Tuesday, but the judge declared a mistrial on the 10 other charges he faced.

Manafort, a fixture in Republican politics for decades, was convicted of five counts of tax fraud, one count of failure to file a report of foreign bank and financial accounts and two counts of bank fraud. A mistrial was declared in three counts of failing to file reports of foreign bank and financial accounts, and seven counts of bank fraud and bank fraud conspiracy.

Prosecutors built a case that Manafort for years hid millions from U.S. tax authorities in overseas accounts, spending the money to maintain a lavish lifestyle and lying to banks to generate more cash.

The trial was the first public test of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, and while the special counsel was vindicated, the victory wasn’t total.

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While the jury was in the court room and the verdict was being read, Manafort showed no reaction and stared straight ahead, not looking at the jury. Members of his defense team often turned their heads to look at the jury.

Manafort was asked to step to the lectern after the jury left the room. Judge T.S. Ellis told Manafort that he has been found guilty on a variety of counts, and that Manafort would have a role to play in the pre-sentence investigation report that the judge relies on to help determined sentencing.

As Manafort was led out of the room, he whispered into defense attorney Thomas Zehnle’s ear and nodded at his wife, Kathleen Manafort, sitting in the front row of the courtroom.

His lead attorney, Kevin Downing, said Manafort is now “evaluating all of his options.”

“Mr. Manafort is disappointed of not getting acquittals all the way through or a complete hung jury on all counts,” Downing told reporters outside the courthouse. “However, he would like to thank Judge Ellis for granting him a fair trial, thank the jury for their very long and hard-fought deliberations. He is evaluating all of his options at this point.”

Manafort faces an estimated seven to nine years in prison.

Prosecutors have until Aug. 29 to decide what they will do about the 10 mistrial charges.

The jury deliberated for four days after hearing 12 days of arguments, evidence and witnesses.

Mueller’s team buried the defendant in an avalanche of emails, tax returns, bank documents and the damning testimony of bankers, accountants and Manafort’s onetime protégé, Rick Gates. The defense sought to raise doubts about Gates’ credibility and about other aspects of the evidence, and was partially successful.

Manafort, 69, also faces another trial on related charges next month in Washington.

He came to the Trump campaign with deep ties to Russian figures, and was the only non-Trump-family member from the campaign team to participate in the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting with a Russian lawyer, which was set up on the promise of obtaining incriminating information about Hillary Clinton.

Manafort also played a role in an effort to soften a plank in the Republican Party platform calling for lethal aid to Ukrainians fighting the Russian invasion of their country.

The charges at issue in the trial, which began July 31, weren’t directly related to Russian interference in the 2016 election, the key aim of Mueller’s investigation which includes probing possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Moscow.

Trump, after arriving in West Virginia for a rally Tuesday, called the outcome a “sad thing that happened” and said the verdict had nothing to do with him and “nothing to do with Russian collusion.”

Trump added of Mueller’s investigation, “It’s a witch hunt and a disgrace.”

Democratic lawmakers pounced on Manafort’s convictions and the near-simultaneous news that Michael Cohen, the president’s former personal attorney, had pleaded guilty in federal court to eight counts of tax evasion, bank fraud and campaign finance violations and said he paid hush money to women at Trump’s direction.