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Dublin: 4 °C Friday 21 February, 2020

Ex-Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort found guilty of tax evasion and bank fraud

The US president previously suggested that Manafort has been treated worse than Al Capone.

Paul Manafort
Paul Manafort
Image: PA Images

PAUL MANAFORT, THE longtime political operative who for months led Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, was found guilty of eight financial crimes on Tuesday.

The verdict was the first trial victory of a special counsel investigation into Trump’s associates, although a judge declared a mistrial on ten other counts which the jury could not agree on.

It came as a stunning one-two punch of bad news for the White House, with the president’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen, also pleading guilty in New York as part of a separate deal with prosecutors.

The jury returned the decision after deliberating for four days on charges of tax evasion and bank fraud against the former Trump campaign chairman.

The outcome almost certainly guarantees years of prison for Manafort and established the ability of special counsel Robert Mueller’s team to persuade a jury of average citizens, despite months of partisan attacks — including from Trump — on the investigation’s integrity.

The verdict raised immediate questions of whether the president would seek to pardon Manafort, the lone American charged by Mueller to opt for trial instead of cooperate.

Trump has not revealed his thoughts, but spoke sympathetically throughout the trial of his onetime aide, at one point suggesting he had been treated worse than gangster Al Capone.

The lengthy trial, presided over by US District Judge T.S. Ellis III, has captured Trump’s attention as he works to undermine Mueller’s investigation through a constant Twitter barrage and increasingly antagonistic statements from his lawyer-spokesman, Rudy Giuliani.

But Trump and his campaign were only a small part of Manafort’s trial, as jurors instead heard days of testimony about Manafort’s finances and what prosecutors say was a years-long tax-evasion and fraud scheme.

Manafort chose not to put on any witnesses or testify himself in the trial.

His attorneys said he made the decision because he didn’t believe the government had met its burden of proof.

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Associated Press

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