Moments ago a federal jury returned a guilty verdict on 8 of the 18 counts former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort had been charged with.
As Fox News notes, the jury began deliberating last Thursday following a three-week trial in which prosecutors claimed that Manafort had failed to pay tax on income from political work done overseas, while fraudulently obtaining millions in bank loans. Manafort had pleaded not guilty.
The inability of the jury to reach a verdict after several days of deliberation, coupled with the jury’s repeated requests for information, including clarification from Judge T.S. Ellis III on what reasonable doubt means, had given the defense team reasons for optimism that an acquittal was in the offing.
There seemed to be more cause for optimism earlier today, when the jury indicated it was having difficulty reaching consensus on even one count, passing a note to the judge that asked, “If we cannot come to consensus on a single count … what does that mean for the final verdict?”
Most of the counts on which Manafort was found guilty carry average sentences of three to five years, but two of them carry penalties as great as 30 years.
Democratic lawmakers are calling the verdict a vindication for the Mueller team. Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) said in a statement that this puts to rest the charge that the collusion investigation is a witch hunt. But insofar as the crimes for which Manafort was convicted occurred years before his work on the Trump campaign, the Left’s triumphalism may be premature.