Jury Deliberates For Fourth Day In Manafort Trial
Posted: Tuesday, August 21, 2018 – 10:43 AM
The jury deliberated for a fourth day Tuesday in the fraud trial of Donald Trump’s former campaign chief Paul Manafort, the first resulting from the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.
Jurors indicated they were struggling to reach a consensus on at least one of the 18 counts of which Manafort is accused but implied they could be in agreement on others, and Judge T.S. Ellis instructed them to attempt to reach a unanimous decision.
The case against Manafort stems from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian election interference and possible collusion between the Trump campaign team and Moscow, and is viewed as an important test for the probe, which the president denounces as a “witch hunt.”
But 69-year-old Manafort is charged with crimes that are unrelated to his brief time as campaign chairman.
He is accused of failing to pay taxes on tens of millions of dollars he earned while advising Russian-backed politicians in Ukraine between 2006 and 2015, as well as of providing fraudulent statements to secure bank loans.
On Tuesday, jurors gave a note to Ellis asking for instructions on how to proceed if they cannot reach an agreement on one of the counts.
“If we cannot come to a consensus on a single count, how should we fill in the jury verdict form for that count and what does that mean for the final verdict?” said the note, which Ellis read to the court.
Ellis added that it was not an “unusual event in a jury trial,” later instructing the jurors that “it is your duty to agree upon a verdict if you can do so.”
The judge said he did not plan to ask the jurors if they were in agreement on other counts at this time, but added that the jurors’ note implied an answer to that question.
The case went to the jury on Thursday after 12 days of gripping testimony about hidden bank accounts, betrayal and lavish spending by Manafort on luxury homes, cars, antique rugs and clothes.
Prosecutors outlined schemes allegedly used by Manafort to avoid paying US taxes on the millions of dollars he earned in Ukraine and then deposited in bank accounts in Cyprus.
Manafort also filed false statements to obtain millions of dollars in loans from banks when his Ukraine consulting fees dried up, according to prosecutors.
© Agence France-Presse