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Tag: paul manafort

Mueller Ended Plea Deal Talks with Manafort Before Second Trial in September

Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Special Counsel Robert Mueller put an end to negotiations for a last-minute plea deal between his prosecutors and former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

Manafort’s legal team began plea discussions while jurors were deliberating after closing arguments in their client’s fraud case in which he ultimately was convicted of eight of 18 counts tax and bank fraud, the Wall Street Journal reports

The plea talks involved Manafort’s upcoming Washington D.C. trial, but they fell apart after Mueller expressed unknown concerns and objected to a potential deal.

The specifics of the potential deal were unclear.

Manafort’s convictions last week came about a month before his second trial is set to begin Sept. 17 on charges of lying to federal investigators and failing to register as a foreign agent.

Manafort Judge Mulled Declaring a Mistrial Over Chatty Jurors

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

The judge in the Paul Manafort trial was so concerned about chatty jurors that he considered declaring a mistrial in the middle of the fraud case against the former Trump campaign chairman.

Judge T.S. Ellis had learned that some jurors during the trial were commenting on the case and politics, and one juror stated “the defense was weak,” according to newly unsealed court transcripts.

Jurors are prohibited from discussing the case until deliberations begin.

Ellis interviewed each juror before deciding not to declare a mistrial.

The concerns about chatty jury members explains why the trial was delayed for five hours on Aug. 10 and continued with interruptions for the next three days.

Ellis also discussed the revelations with the defense and prosecution, expressing his concerns about jurors violating the rules, which are meant to keep jurors from influencing each other before the closing arguments.

Manafort’s defense attorney, Richard Wrestling, argued the chit-chat was a sufficient reason to declare a mistrial.

“This clearly is crossing the line if it, in fact, happened,” Wrestling told the judge. “It suggests someone who has left beside — behind the presumption of innocence the defendant is entitled to until the evidence is all in.”

After one-on-one interviews with the jurors, the judge decided the jury had maintained its objectivity and wasn’t influencing each other.

Lone Holdout Prevented Jury from Convicting Manafort on All 18 Counts

Juror Paula Duncan

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

A lone holdout in the trial of Paul Manafort prevented the jury from convicting the former Trump campaign chairman on all 18 counts of bank and tax fraud, according to a juror who described herself as a supporter of President Trump.

“We all tried to convince her to look at the paper trail. We laid it out in front of her again and again, and she still said that she had a reasonable doubt,” juror Paula Duncan said in an interview on Fox News. “We didn’t want it to be hung, so we tried for an extended period of time to convince her. But in the end she held out, and that’s why we have 10 counts that did not get a verdict.”

The 12-member jury unanimously reached a guilty verdict in eight of the 18 counts but could not reach consensus on the other 10 counts because one juror who said she had reasonable doubts about the other 1o counts could not be swayed, Duncan said.

As a result, Judge T.S. Ellis declared a mistrial on the 10 counts.

Duncan described the deliberations as intense and emotional.

“It was a very emotionally charged jury room – there were some tears,” Duncan said.

Duncan, an avid Trump supporter, said she was skeptical of the prosecutors’ motives in charging Manafort but had no choice in reaching the guilty verdicts because the prosecutors’ case was too strong. 

“Certainly Mr. Manafort got caught breaking the law, but he wouldn’t have gotten caught if they weren’t after President Trump,” Duncan insisted, adding that she believed the special counsel’s case was a “witch hunt to try to find Russian collusion.”

Manafort was ordered to stay in jail until a sentencing hearing was scheduled for sometime later this year. The 69-year-old who spent more than $15 million to fund his lavish lifestyle, could end up sending the rest of his life behind bars.

Manafort also faces another trial later this year on separate charges.

How One Disastrous Hour Could Change Everything for President Trump

President Trump

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

It was a devastating hour for President Trump.

Between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. Tuesday, Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, was found guilty of eight counts of bank and tax fraud.

At roughly the same time, the president’s former attorney and fixer, Michael Cohen, implicated Trump in a payoff scheme to silence women who said they had an affair with him.

The revelations served to undermine Trump’s repeated claims that he is the victim of a “witch hunt.” And even more, it provided more evidence to special counsel Robert Mueller, who already is investigating whether the president colluded with Russia and obstructed justice.

The news also could increase the chances that Trump, depending on what happens during the midterm elections, could face impeachment proceedings. Republicans who have defended Trump are now going to find it much more difficult to stand behind the president.

Sen. Mark Warner, vice chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, said the Manafort has severely damaged Trump’s credibility.

“This verdict makes it absolutely clear that the Mueller probe is not a ‘witch hunt’ — it is a serious investigation that is rooting out corruption and Russian influence on our political system at the highest levels,” Warner said in a statement obtained by the Los Angeles Times. “The President’s campaign manager was just convicted of serious federal crimes by a jury of his peers, despite the President’s continued attempts to undermine the investigation which has brought Mr. Manafort to justice. Any attempt by the President to pardon Mr. Manafort or interfere in the investigation into his campaign would be a gross abuse of power and require immediate action by Congress.”

But most damaging to Trump were Cohen’s statements to a judge while in federal court in Manhattan on Tuesday. The 51-year-old attorney said he had paid $130,000 and $150,000 in hush money to women who claimed they had affairs with Trump. Cohen said the money was meant to buy their silence “with the purpose of influencing the election.”

Cohen faces about four to five years in prison after pleading guilty to five counts of tax fraud, one of bank fraud and two counts of violating campaign finance laws.

Jury Convicts Manafort on 8 of 18 Counts

Paul Manafort

Update: 6:04 p.m. Tuesday —  A federal jury in Alexandria, Va., found President Trump’s campaign manager guilty of eight tax and bank fraud charges. The jury was deadlocked on the other 10, the Washington Post reports. 

________________________

Reported from Earlier Today

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

The jury in the trial of Paul Manafort, the former Trump campaign chairman accused of bank and tax fraud, alerted a judge that it is split on at least one count and wanted instructions on how to proceed.

The news came late Tuesday morning on the fourth day of deliberations in a case that could send Manafort to prison for the rest of his life if he’s found guilty.

“Your honor, if we cannot come to a consensus on a single count, how should we fill in the jury verdict form for that count, and what does that mean for the final verdict?” the note asked U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III, the Washington Post reports

The jury is tasked with reaching a verdict on 18 counts filed by special counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating whether Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia to meddle in the presidential election.

Manafort is accused of hiding millions of dollars in foreign bank accounts to avoid paying taxes on profits he made while working as a consultant for a Ukrainian political party with ties to the Kremlin. He also was charged with lying about his income to obtain loans to support what prosecutors described as an extravagant, excessive lifestyle that included six homes and an assortment of very expensive clothes.

Jury Begins Fourth Day of Deliberations in Manafort Trial. Is That Unusual?

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

The jury in the Paul Manafort fraud trial began its fourth day of deliberations Tuesday morning after failing to reach a verdict Monday evening.

The jury deliberated until 6:15 p.m. Monday, which is the latest it had gone home for the day.

Manafort’s attorneys suggested the jury’s failure to reach a verdict after three days of deliberations is good news.

But experts largely disagreed, saying it’s not unusual for a jury to take days – even more than a week — to reach a verdict in a case as complex as the one against Manafort, who is charged with 18 counts, ranging from tax fraud to tax fraud.

Defense attorneys’ suggestion that “the length of the deliberations is a good sign for them is pure spin,” Michael Bromwich, a former Justice Department inspector general, told Vox. “Indeed, quick verdicts in complex cases are frequently for the defendant.”

Check back with Ticklethewire.com for updates on the deliberations.

Why the Manafort Jury Likely Hasn’t Reached a Verdict Yet

Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

If you’ve been eagerly awaiting the verdict in the Paul Manafort trial, it may feel like the jury has taken a long time.

But according to experts, juries typically take days – even more than a week – to reach a verdict on cases as complex as this one.

In the Manafort case, the jury began its third day of deliberations Monday. Manafort is charged with 18 counts, including bank fraud, conspiracy, filing false income tax returns and failure to report foreign or financial assets.

The news site Vox interviewed eight lawyers about the deliberations, and each said there’s nothing unusual about the jury take several days to reach a verdict.

“Probably means nothing,” Shira Scheindlin, a former United States district judge in the Southern District of New York, told Vox. “Most juries are very meticulous. Bank fraud and tax fraud are complex statutes and involve unfamiliar concepts. They are not in the everyday experience of jurors.”

Defense attorneys’ suggestion that “the length of the deliberations  is a good sign for them is pure spin,” said Michael Bromwich, former Justice Department inspector general. “Indeed, quick verdicts in complex cases are frequently for the defendant.”

Harry Litman, former U.S. attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania, said juries taking their jobs seriously and thus are methodical.

“The most likely thing it means is that they’re going through the charges, which are paper-driven and require confirmation methodically,” Litman said. “We know that’s happening, based on their questioning, and it’s the kind of the case that doing that would take three, four, five days anyway.”

Jury Reconvenes Today After Asking Judge to Clarify Meaning of ‘Reasonable Doubt’

Ex-Trump campaign leader Paul Manafort.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

A jury will reconvene Friday morning after failing to reach a verdict during its full day of  deliberations in the fraud trial of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

Just before the jury said it wanted to go home at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, the panel asked Judge T.S. Ellis to clarify the meaning of “reasonable doubt,” the threshold for acquittal. The judge clarified that the prosecution must prove their case beyond “doubt based on reason,” not “beyond a reasonable doubt.”

The jury also asked three other questions, including the legal requirements to disclose foreign bank accounts and the definition of “shelf” companies.

Ellis provided no insight, except to say the jury should rely on their “collective recollection.”

The jury will reconvene at 9:30 a.m. Friday to determine whether Manafort is guilty of 18 counts of tax and bank fraud, which prosecutors said the Republican consultant committed to indulge in an excessive lifestyle that included more than $6 million on seven homes, $820,000 ons manicure the lawns, a $21,000 black titanium and crystal watch, a $15,000 ostrich jacket and an $18,000 python jacket. 

If convicted, Mueller could spend the rest of his life behind bars.

The jury’s decision in the first trial brought forward by special counsel Robert Mueller carries a lot of weight for special counsel Robert Mueller and President Trump, who has long complained that the investigation is a “witch hunt” designed to force him out of office.

Whatever the case, Manafort faces a second trial in several months on money laundering charges, and prosecutors are expected to have even more evidence in that case.