What Was Paul Manafort Actually Found Guilty of?
Paul Manafort was charged guilty on August 21 for five counts of tax fraud, two counts of bank fraud, and one count of failing to file foreign bank account reports in the first sentencing instigated by Robert Mueller and his investigative team.
The jury spent four days in deliberation before they reached a guilty verdict for eight of the 18 counts against Manafort. They did not reach a consensus on the other ten counts, and US District Court Judge T.S. Ellis declared a mistrial on the remaining counts.
The charges of fraud were connected to consulting work that Trump’s former campaign chairman had done for a political party in Ukraine years before the 2016 U.S. election.
The Party of Legions, and its president Viktor Yanukovych, hired Manafort for campaign consultation and personal lobbying at the price of more than $60 million, the prosecution found. Yanukovych had fraudulently won the presidency in 2004, and hired consulting companies from the west to help him revamp his reputation and win back his political seat. The Party of Legions also had positive political support from the Russian government.
Manafort was paid through unreported foreign bank accounts, and he failed to report a large percentage of these earnings on his tax returns. Additionally, he committed bank fraud in 2014 when trying to apply for a loan that followed the end of the payments from Ukraine.
Special Council Mueller had uncovered Manafort’s fraudulent activity during his probe into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign.
The 16-day trial was held in Alexandria, Virginia, and is only the first of two fraud-related trials that Manafort will face this year.
A key prosecution witness was Rick Gates, a former business associate of Manafort. The pair also worked together on Trump’s campaign.
Following the verdict on Tuesday, Trump commented on his former employee while speaking to the media before a rally in West Virginia.
“I must tell you that Paul Manafort is a good man,” Trump said. “He was with Ronald Reagan, he was with a lot of different people over the years, and I feel very sad about that … It doesn’t involve me, but it’s a very sad thing that happened.”