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Manafort trial: No verdict from jury who will return next week

He faces several counts of tax evasion and bank fraud in the first trial related to the FBI's Russia investigation 

Mythili Sampathkumar
New York
Friday 17 August 2018 21:08 BST
Manafort Trial Turns from Prosecution to Defense as Manafort's wife and attorneys arrive

The jury in the trial of Donald Trump's former campaign manager Paul Manafort have finished the second day of deliberations with no verdict as Robert Mueller and the prosecution prepare for his next trial in Washington DC.

Mr Mueller's team reportedly has more than 1,000 pieces of evidence in the next trial but in the meantime, the jury in the Alexandria, Virginia federal courthouse had sent Judge TS Ellis four questions for review ahead of their second day.

Among them was a request for the judge to define what "reasonable doubt" in this particular case means.

Legal experts say the jury asking to define this points to the possibility that at least one juror may feel the prosecution did not meet its burden of proof.

The jury also asked Mr Ellis for guidance on the regulations regarding when someone must disclose a foreign bank account to the US Treasury Department and whether the exhibit list could be amended so the jury could see which pieces of evidence corresponded which counts.

The six men and women also asked the judge to clarify the definition of a "shelf company," which is an inactive company often sold to people aiming to bypass the registration process.

Mr Manafort faces five counts of filing false tax returns, four counts of failing to disclose his offshore bank accounts, and nine counts of bank fraud today, as the trial carries over into next week.

The former foreign political agent's next trial to take place in the US District Court in Washington DC also includes charges of witness tampering.

Mr Mueller alleged Mr Manafort "repeatedly" contacted two witnesses in an effort to sway their testimony, court documents stated.

The longtime political operative was under house arrest at the time of the suspected contact and as a result, Mr Mueller asked federal judge Amy Berman Jackson to "promptly" reconsider Mr Manafort’s release. She did and Mr Manafort has been in jail ever since the 5 June charge.

FBI Special Agent Brock Domin, in a declaration filed with Mr Mueller’s motion, said Mr Manafort had attempted to call, text, and send encrypted messages in February 2018 to two people from The Hapsburg Group, a firm he had worked with in the past when promoting the interests of Ukraine in the US.

Agents have recovered telephone and text records from Mr Manafort’s iCloud account as evidence of his contact with the two individuals, Mr Domin said.

Follow the latest updates in the trial below


Hello and welcome to the latest updates from Paul Manafort's trail brought to you by The Independent. 

Donald Trump's former campaign manager faces several counts of fraud and tax evasion in what is the first trial in the FBI's investigation into alleged collusion between Mr Trump's 2016 campaign and Russian officials, led by special prosecutor Robert Mueller

The jury is set to reconvene in just a few minutes after sending Judge TS Ellis four questions for clarification after yesterday's deliberations. 

Catch up on all the highlights here: 

Mythili Sampathkumar17 August 2018 14:40

The jury, comprised of six men and six women, have been listening to testimony for approximately two weeks. 

The defence's strategy has been to attack Mr Manafort's longtime business partner and deputy on the Trump campaign, Rick Gates. They claimed he was the one who could have fraudulently signed Mr Manafort's name to the bank loans in question. 

Mr Gates pleaded guilty to the October 2017 indictment which jointly named the pair and has been cooperating with Mr Mueller's team. 

Read up on Mr Gates's testimony here: 

Mythili Sampathkumar17 August 2018 15:01

The prosecution took Mr Manafort to task on what they labelled an "extravagant" lifestyle. 

Jurors saw pictures of a $15,000 jacket made of ostrich leather and heard from staff at exclusive boutiques like New York's Alan Couture and House of Bijan in Beverly Hills. 

Prosecutors showed receipts of international wire transfers used to pay nearly $900,000 of purchases from these retailers and other vendors to prove Mr Manafort had lied about his more than 30 overseas accounts in order to be able to fund his lifestyle. 

Mythili Sampathkumar17 August 2018 15:24

The charges against Mr Manafort do not directly relate to his Trump campaign work - most of the money he had allegedly hidden in accounts in Cyprus was from work he had done for pro-Russian politicians like former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, who then fled to Moscow in 2014 amid the Russian invasion of the Crimea region. 

However, the bank fraud Mr Manafort is suspected of took place in 2016, overlapping with his time on the campaign. 

Mythili Sampathkumar17 August 2018 15:37

The Associated Press, New York Times, Washington Post, CNN, NBC and BuzzFeed News are asking the trial judge TS Ellis in the financial fraud trial to unseal the closed documents being used in the case.

Mr Ellis has scheduled a hearing for 2 pm EST to address the matter but had previously noted he would unseal all trial documents, "save one exception". 

Mythili Sampathkumar17 August 2018 15:38

Mr Trump said, waiting to board the Marine One helicopter on the White House lawn, he thinks it is a "a very sad day for our country."

He said Mr Manafort "worked for me for a very short period of time," but added "I think it's very sad what they've done to" him. 

Mr Manafort served as his campaign manager for the summer of 2016 in an effort to bring some order to operations given his political operative experience since the 1970s.  His reign began around the time Mr Trump was set to get the Republican party's nomination for the election. 

By August 2017, however, the controversy over Mr Manafort's alleged secret lobbying on behalf of pro-Russian Ukrainian politicians like Mr Yanukovych got the better of him. 

Eric Trump, one of the president's sons, told Fox News at the time: “My father just didn’t want to have the distraction looming over the campaign". 

Mythili Sampathkumar17 August 2018 16:43

An acquittal of Paul Manafort would add to criticism that Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation hasn't been worth the time and expense.

A conviction, however, would allow Democrats and Mr Mueller's supporters to say ending the investigation would be premature. A Manafort conviction could also boost Mr Mueller's position as he negotiates with Mr Trump's lawyers over a potential interview.

Steve Anderson17 August 2018 17:37

Judge TS Ellis III told lawyers on the case that he later in the day he would address a motion from several media outlets to unseal discussions that took place over several days near the end of testimony.

Steve Anderson17 August 2018 18:38

Judge Ellis noted he had already said he planned to unseal those discussions when the trial ended. “It was not permanent,” he said on Friday, though he added that some names may not be revealed.

He also indicated that the matter the lawyers spent days discussing involved a medical condition, and that the precise details of that may also not be revealed.

Steve Anderson17 August 2018 18:58

Judge TS Ellis has been receiving threats while preceding over the trial. 

Mr Ellis made the comment after dismissing a motion which asked to release information about the 12 jurors and four alternates, fearing for their safety. 

The judge also said he is guarded by US Marshals, one of the federal law enforcement agencies within the US Department of Justice. 

Mythili Sampathkumar17 August 2018 19:34

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