By Danielle Haynes
Aug. 21 (UPI) — A jury in Virginia found former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort guilty on eight of the 18 counts he faced for bank fraud Tuesday.
The verdict came after four days of deliberations during which the panel of six men and six women indicated it had difficulty reaching a consensus on 10 counts. District Court Judge T.S. Ellis III declared a mistrial on those 10 charges.
Manafort faced 18 tax and bank fraud charges for hiding millions of dollars from the Internal Revenue Service in overseas bank accounts. The jury found him guilty on five tax fraud charges, one charge of hiding foreign bank accounts and two counts of bank fraud.
The 68-year-old faces up to 30 years in prison for each count.
President Donald Trump called Manafort a “good man” while speaking with reporters after he arrived in Charleston, W.Va. for a rally.
“It’s a witch hunt, it’s a disgrace,” he added.
Manafort’s charges stem from an investigation led by special counsel Robert Mueller, who is probing whether Russia interfered in the 2016 U.S. presidential election and whether the Trump campaign colluded. He’s also determining whether President Donald Trump obstructed justice when he fired former FBI Director James Comey, who at the time was looking into Russian meddling.
The indictment — filed in Virginia in February 2018 — accused him and business associate Rick Gates of lying to banks about their business income in order to get more than $20 million in loans. Prosecutors said the two passed the money they received from Ukraine through foreign bank accounts to conceal it from the IRS.
The Virginia-based case was the second of two federal indictments Manafort faced related to the Mueller investigation. His first indictment, filed in the U.S. District Court in the District of Columbia in October 2017, charged him with conspiracy, money laundering, tax fraud, failure to file reports of foreign financial assets, serving as an unregistered foreign agent and giving false and misleading statements under the Foreign Agents Registration Act. Witness tampering charges were added in June 2018 and named an accomplice — Konstantin Kilimnik. He has yet to go to trial for the D.C.-based indictment.
Manafort resigned as Trump’s campaign chairman in August 2016 after The New York Times reported a Ukrainian government corruption probe found Manafort received nearly $13 million off the books from a pro-Russian Ukrainian political party. In June 2017, when Manafort registered as a foreign agent after the fact, he reported making more than $17 million from the Party of Regions.
On Jan. 3, 2018, Manafort sued the Department of Justice, saying Mueller didn’t have the authority to investigate his lobbying dealings in Ukraine. The Department of Justice asked for the suit to be dropped, saying Manafort misinterpreted Mueller’s appointment as allowing him to investigate crimes “uncovered for the very first time during his investigation.”
On May 15, 2018, a federal judge rejected Manafort’s suit.
They said he can prosecute crimes the Justice Department knew about.
Trump said Manafort’s guilty verdict had “nothing to do with Russian collusion.”
“It was not the original mission,” he said of the Mueller investigation. “Believe me, it was something very much different.”