Manafort Found Guilty

Ellie Halleron, Writer

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Paul Manafort has been convicted on eight counts of fraud, leaving ten other charges at a mistrial. He is facing a maximum sentence of eighty years. The question must be asked: will Mueller keep these charges in the air to prevent Trump from pardoning Manafort? Will a second trial occur? And if Manafort is convicted of the remaining ten charges, will Trump then pardon him?

Manafort was charged with multiple counts of tax fraud, bank fraud and tax evasion. Prosecutors claimed Manafort collected over 65 million dollars in offshore bank accounts, and spent over 15 million dollars on luxury purchases. Some of the evidence entered into the trial to show his excess of cash included a $15,000 coat made out of ostrich leather, among other items. They also claimed Manafort lied to banks and took out over 20 million dollars in fraudulent loans.

The defense called zero witnesses to the stand, and Manafort chose not to testify on his own behalf. This is not unusual – the defense may feel the prosecution did an inadequate job of proving guilt, or that the cross-examinations were all the defense needed. However, many people believe that this was a risk – and according to the conviction, one that did not play out the way they had hoped.

Previous to the trial, Manafort had been remanded to jail since June after being accused of witness tampering by Robert Mueller. Trump tweeted soon after: “Wow, what a tough sentence for Paul Manafort, who has represented Ronald Reagan, Bob Dole and many other top political people and campaigns. Didn’t know Manafort was the head of the Mob. What about Comey and Crooked Hillary and all of the others? Very unfair!”

Note: Manafort was not sentenced if anything when this tweet was written. Many believed that this would cause enough pressure to force Manafort to make a deal with Mueller, but this never happened.

The trial took place in what is commonly known as “The Rocket Docket.” The Eastern District of Virginia Court has been deemed that because of how fast the court moves through the cases. After months and months of build-up, the actual trial of Manafort for his economic crimes only lasted about three weeks.

In the past, Manafort has implied he believes Trump will pardon him. Trump has not denied this, and has expressed his sadness over the conviction of Manafort and of the trial itself. “I think the whole Manafort trial is very said,” Trump told reporters on August 17. “I think that’s a very sad day for our country … I think it’s very sad what they’ve done to Paul Manafort.”

Manafort is set to face a second trial in Washington regarding his relationships in the former Soviet Union. If Manafort does know something incriminating Trump, Trump May have no choice but to pardon Manafort.