MANAFORT GUILTY | Ex-Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort guilty of 8 charges


ALEXANDRIA, Va. (AP) — Paul Manafort, the longtime political operative who for months led Donald Trump's successful presidential campaign, was found guilty of eight financial crimes today in the first trial victory of the special counsel investigation into the president's associates.

A judge declared a mistrial on 10 other counts the jury could not agree on.

The verdict was part of a stunning one-two punch of bad news for the White House, coming as the president's former lawyer, Michael Cohen, was pleading guilty in New York to campaign finance charges arising from hush money payments made to two women who say they had sexual relationships with Trump.

The jury returned the decision after deliberating four days on tax and bank fraud charges against Manafort, who led Trump's election effort during a crucial stretch of 2016, including as he clinched the Republican nomination and during the party's convention.

Manafort, who appeared jovial earlier in the day amid signs the jury was struggling in its deliberations, focused intently on the jury as the clerk read off the charges. He stared down blankly at the defense table, then looked up, expressionless, as the judge finished thanking the jury.

"Mr. Manafort is disappointed of not getting acquittals all the way through or a complete hung jury on all counts," said defense lawyer Kevin Downing. He said Manafort was evaluating all his options.

The jury found Manafort guilty of five counts of filing false tax returns on tens of millions of dollars in Ukrainian political consulting income. He was also convicted of failing to report foreign bank accounts in 2012 and of two bank fraud charges that accused him of lying to obtain millions of dollars in loans after his consulting income dried up.

The jury couldn't reach a verdict on three other foreign bank account charges, and the remaining bank fraud and conspiracy counts.

5:47 p.m.

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (AP) — Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut says the White House “looks increasingly like a criminal enterprise” after the convictions of President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and personal lawyer Michael Cohen.

Blumenthal said today the verdicts show the probe led by special counsel Robert Mueller is “not a witch hunt or hoax” as Trump has claimed. He says Mueller’s team will continue following the facts as the investigation “circles ever closer to the Oval Office.”

Blumenthal says any talk of a pardon for Manafort or Cohen “should end now,” calling it an abuse of power and possible obstruction of justice.

Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont says a Manafort pardon would create a backlash in Congress and “have Watergate written all over it.”

4:35 p.m.

Paul Manafort has been found guilty on eight counts in his fraud trial. The jury says it is undecided on 10 others., for which the judge declared a mistrial.

Prosecutors say Manafort hid tens of millions of dollars in foreign income from Ukraine. They also say he lied on loan applications to obtain millions more to maintain a lavish lifestyle.

Manafort’s attorneys called no witnesses, arguing prosecutors failed to meet their burden of proof.

The trial is the first courtroom test of special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe, though the case doesn’t involve allegations of Russian election interference.

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