Manafort jurors hint they can’t agree on at least one of the 18 counts he faces

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Update (5:25pm ET): Paul Manafort was found guilty on eight criminal counts by a federal jury in Virginia, including five counts of tax fraud. 

Paul Manafort may walk on at least one criminal count of the 18 being weighed by a federal court jury.

Donald Trump’s onetime campaign manager is on trial on charges of failing to declare millions in taxable income, money laundering, bank fraud, and obstruction of justice.

The 12-person jury in the Alexandria, Virginia sent a note to judge T.S Ellis today (Aug. 20) indicating they couldn’t agree on a verdict on at least one count.

Manafort and his business partner Richard Gates were charged with multiple counts of criminal behavior last October. Manafort and another former partner were charged with another seven counts in June, including making false statements, obstruction of justice, and failing to register as a foreign lobbyist, charges that will be tried in a Washington, DC courtroom starting next month.

The Virginia charges, brought by special counsel Robert Mueller, were accompanied by hundreds of pages of exhibits detailing Manafort’s lavish spending and mapping the complicated offshore partnerships he allegedly used to route money. Mueller’s office has thousands of pages of exhibits prepared for the DC trial, lawyers say.

While the current trial is sometimes viewed as a proxy for the investigation into any links between the Trump campaign and Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, most of the charges against Manafort involved his work before joining the 2016 campaign. The indictments laid out by Mueller are a case study in how western elites help plunder young democracies, Quartz wrote earlier.

As a public relations advisor, Manafort earned tens of millions helping elect Ukrainian politicians who later allegedly plundered the country. He also failed to declare much of that income to the Internal Revenue Service, prosecutors say.

If the Virginia jury fails to convict Manafort, it is likely to raise new questions about whether members were inappropriately pressured outside the courtroom, and the judge’s political bias in the case.

Ellis displayed “extraordinary bias” in the trial, a former federal judge and Harvard Law professor wrote in the Washington Post. He “disparaged the prosecution’s evidence, misstated its legal theories, even implied that prosecutors had disobeyed his orders when they had not,” she wrote.

The fact that the six-man, six-woman jury was not sequestered during the trial is highly unusual, former federal prosecutors have said. 

Jurors are instructed not to talk about the trial or read news about it outside the courtroom, but it is impossible to monitor that activity. Ellis said last week that he’d received death threats related to the trial, and Donald Trump has been tweeting about Manafort’s innocence.