Paul Manafort, a longtime political consultant who briefly led President Trump’s campaign, is awaiting a verdict on financial fraud charges in what has become a highly publicized showdown between the Trump administration and Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
Manafort, 69, faces 18 tax evasion and bank fraud charges as he is accused of hiding a “significant percentage” of income earned from his Ukrainian work from the IRS. He is also accused of fraudulently obtaining millions more in bank loans, including while he was working on the Trump campaign.
Held in Alexandria, Virginia, this is Mueller’s first trial since his appointment to oversee the Russia investigation more than a year ago. It spanned nearly three weeks before jurors began deliberations.
This case doesn’t specifically address any alleged collusion between Trump officials and the Russian government. Trump has repeatedly called Mueller’s probe into such allegations a “witch hunt.”
U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III, known for his colorful comments, has repeatedly rebuked lawyers in the case, specifically saying prosecutors only “really care about what information Mr. Manafort can give you to Mr. Trump and an impeachment or whatever.”
Read on for a look what you need to know about the case against Manafort and the Alexandria trial as the jury begins its third day of deliberations Monday.
What are the charges?
The charges against Manafort do not relate to allegations of misconduct pertaining to the Trump campaign.
Instead, the trial focused on tales of wild spending, secret shell companies and millions of dollars of Ukrainian money flowing through offshore bank accounts and into the political consultant’s pockets.
The luxurious lifestyle was funded by Manafort's political consulting for the pro-Russian Ukrainian political party of Viktor Yanukovych, who was deposed as Ukraine's president in 2014.
Along with his former business associate Rick Gates, Manafort was initially indicted in October 2017 on multiple counts that included: conspiracy against the U.S., conspiracy to launder money, false statements and failure to file reports of foreign bank and financial accounts.
Manafort has maintained his innocence in all charges. Gates pleaded guilty to the charges against him.
Gates testified that Manafort would fraudulently classify certain wire transfers as loans to reduce the amount of taxable income in a given year. Gates also said he embezzled hundreds of thousands of dollars from Manafort and admitted to having had an extramarital affair.
What does this have to do with Russia?
Mueller’s investigation centers on collusion between the Trump campaign and Russians during the election – but this trial is not supposed to be about that
Ellis warned prosecutors about the current “antipathy” toward Russia in the U.S., saying “most people in this country don’t distinguish between Ukrainians and Russians.”
How long could Manafort be in jail?
Manafort “faces the very real possibility” of life in prison, according to a federal court order.
What about the Trump card?
Manafort joined Trump’s presidential campaign in March 2016 to help wrangle delegates ahead of the Republican National Convention in Ohio – something he had done for former President Gerald Ford.
Two months later, Manafort was elevated to campaign chairman.
Manafort’s resignation from the campaign was announced on August 19, 2016, after The New York Times reported he'd received $12.7 million in undisclosed cash payments from Yanukovych’s pro-Russian party between 2007 and 2012.
Trump has maintained that Manafort was only with the campaign for a short time and has insisted he should have been informed of the investigation into him.
Observers have questioned whether Trump will pardon Manafort if he is convicted.
Is this it?
Manafort has a second trial coming up in mid-September. That trial, set in the District of Columbia, involves allegations he acted as an unregistered foreign agent for Ukrainian interests and made false statements to the U.S. government.
Fox News’ Alex Pappas, Gregg Re, Brooke Singman and The Associated Press contributed to this report.