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As it happenedended1534490980

Manafort trial - as it happened: Jury to begin deliberations after prosecutors accuse former Trump campaign manager of lying

Verdict will measure special counsel Robert Mueller's ability to make charges in Russia investigation stick

Samuel Osborne
Friday 17 August 2018 08:29 BST
Manafort Trial Turns from Prosecution to Defense as Manafort's wife and attorneys arrive

The jury began its first day of deliberations in the case against Donald Trump‘s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, who is on trial for financial fraud.

On Wednesday, prosecutors told jurors Mr Manafort had lied to keep himself flush with cash for his luxurious lifestyle and then lied some more to procure millions in bank loans when his income dropped off.

In his defence, Mr Manafort’s attorneys told jurors to question the entirety of the prosecution’s case as they sought to tarnish the credibility of Mr Manafort’s longtime protege, and government witness, Rick Gates.

It capped nearly three weeks of testimony in the first courtroom test for special counsel Robert Mueller‘s Russia investigation. The verdict, now in the hands of 12 jurors, will provide a measure of the special counsel’s ability to make charges stick.

While the case does not involve allegations of Russian election interference or possible coordination by the Trump campaign, it has been closely watched by Mr Trump, who has sought to publicly undermine Mr Mueller’s probe through a barrage of attacks on Twitter and through his lawyers.

Follow the latest updates in the trial below

Additional reporting by agencies


Hello and welcome to the latest updates from The Independent on Paul Manafort's financial fraud trial.

Jurors will begin deliberations at the courthouse in Alexandria, Virginia, on Thursday after prosecutors urged them to convict Donald Trump's former campaign chief based more on a paper trail of evidence than the testimony of his former protege, Rick Gates. 

Samuel Osborne16 August 2018 12:02

Here is our article from Wednesday, which followed along with the closing arguments in the case against Mr Trump's former campaign chairman.

Samuel Osborne16 August 2018 12:04

In the closing arguments on Wednesday, prosecutor Greg Andres said the government's case boils down to "Mr Manafort and his lies." 

"When you follow the trail of Mr Manafort's money, it is littered with lies," Mr Andres said as he made his final argument that the jury should find Mr Manafort guilty of 18 felony counts. 

Samuel Osborne16 August 2018 12:26

Attorneys for Mr Manafort spoke next, arguing against his guilt by saying he left the particulars of his finances to other people, including his former protege, Rick Gates. 

Defense attorney Richard Westling noted that Mr Manafort employed a team of accountants, bookkeepers and tax preparers, a fact he said showed his client wasn't trying to hide anything.

Mr Westling also painted the prosecutions' case as consisting of cherry-picked evidence that doesn't show jurors the full picture. 

"None of the banks involved reported Manafort's activities as suspicious," he said, saying Mr Manafort's dealings only drew scrutiny when the special counsel Robert Mueller's investigators started asking questions. 

Mr Westling questioned whether prosecutors had proven Mr Manafort willfully violated the law, pointing to documents and emails the defense lawyer said may well show numerical errors or sloppy bookkeeping or even false information on Mr Manafort's tax returns but no overt fraud.

Samuel Osborne16 August 2018 12:34

The defence also took direct aim at Rick Gates, Mr Manafort's long-time right-hand man, who was charged in the same indictment but pleaded guilty and is cooperating with the government.

Mr Gates' testimony was the highlight of the trial, and Mr Downing sought to undercut his credibility as he described the married father of four's "secret life" in London, that Mr Gates admitted included an extramarital affair.

But Mr Andres told jurors in his closing the star witness of the trial was "documents," and once the jury began deliberating, they should look at the exhibits to see how they corroborated Mr Gates' testimony.

Samuel Osborne16 August 2018 12:48

Mr Manafort also faces a second trial in Washington in September, where he is accused of failing to disclose lobbying for Ukranian politicians, among other crimes.

Samuel Osborne16 August 2018 12:59

Here is a helpful reminder of the background to this complex case, from The Independent's Mythili Sampathkumar, which covers who Mr Manafort is, the charges against him and the possible ramifications the case could have for his old employer, Donald Trump.

Samuel Osborne16 August 2018 13:17

If Mr Manafort were convicted, it would undermine Donald Trump's efforts to paint Robert Mueller's inquiry into potential collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia as a political witch hunt. An acquittal would be a setback for Mr Mueller.

Samuel Osborne16 August 2018 13:26

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