After Being Convicted Of 8 Charges In Va., Paul Manafort Will Face D.C. Trial

Aug 22, 2018
Originally published on August 23, 2018 3:37 pm
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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

It's only been a day since former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort was convicted on eight felony charges, but lawyers in the case may not get much rest. That's because another trial in Washington, D.C., is looming next month. NPR national Justice correspondent Carrie Johnson is in the studio to talk more about this case. Hey there, Carrie.

CARRIE JOHNSON, BYLINE: Hi, Audie.

CORNISH: So we have a jury in Virginia that found Paul Manafort guilty of tax and bank fraud. And yet you are telling me this is not the end of the (laughter) story. What could possibly be next?

JOHNSON: (Laughter) It is not the end of the story. That six-man, six-woman jury did convict Paul Manafort on some of the charges. But jurors deadlocked on many of the bank fraud counts and several counts of failure to file reports about foreign bank accounts. Prosecutors are supposed to tell the judge next week if they're going to retry Paul Manafort on those 10 charges.

And remember, Paul Manafort also faces another trial in Washington, D.C. That one centers on allegations of money laundering and his unreported foreign lobbying work for the government in Ukraine. Lawyers have said already there are about 1,000 exhibits in that new case, much bigger than the one that just ended in Virginia. In fact, today a new prosecutor joined that D.C. case, a woman named Jeannie Rhee, just in time for that trial to start in September.

CORNISH: Paul Manafort has been steadfast in proclaiming his innocence on this, right? Is there a chance that he could decide to somehow strike a deal with the government?

JOHNSON: There's always a chance. People close to Manafort say he has no information related to any conspiracy between people in the U.S. and the Russian government around that 2016 election. His lawyer, Kevin Downing, says Manafort is evaluating his legal options. He also says Manafort got a fair trial. That seems to foreclose some of his options on appeal.

It's not clear how much time the judge will give Manafort whenever he is sentenced in Virginia. The range is something like five or six to 10 years. Even though Manafort wasn't convicted on all 18 charges in Virginia, the judge could still take all of that conduct into account when it comes time for sentencing.

CORNISH: What have we been hearing from the White House, specifically President Trump, when it calls - when it comes to Paul Manafort?

JOHNSON: Yeah. There is a wild card here. It's a big one. And that wild card is President Trump, who has been rather supportive of Paul Manafort before, during and after this trial. Trump of course has distanced himself from Manafort, said Manafort really didn't do that much on the 2016 campaign. But Trump still calls Paul Manafort a good guy. He says the government, his own government, has gone after Manafort like Al Capone, targeting him for petty violations, not big ones.

And this morning, Trump tweeted another message of support for Paul Manafort, saying that unlike his lawyer Michael Cohen, Paul Manafort refused to break to make up stories in order to get a deal. He continued, such respect for a brave man - Paul Manafort, who was just convicted yesterday. Sarah Sanders, the White House press secretary, says she's not aware currently of any conversations about a pardon for Paul Manafort.

CORNISH: As a result, some people are talking about whether or not Paul Manafort could get a presidential pardon. Is that likely?

JOHNSON: Well, only Donald Trump knows the answer. Even people within his own government may not be able to tell at any given moment what he's thinking. There is precedent for presidents offering pardons to people before they've even been sentenced. This happened in the Iran-Contra scandal many years ago with a CIA official represented by a lawyer named Richard Hibey. Of course, Hibey is also a longtime adviser to Paul Manafort. He showed up almost every day during this Virginia trial.

But the pardon issue gets a little bit complicated. It may make a person - it may make it harder for a person to invoke their Fifth Amendment right to remain silent in front of a congressional committee. And it's not clear that any possible pardon for Manafort would cover everything the state of New York might want to charge him with or investigate him for moving forward.

CORNISH: NPR's Justice correspondent Carrie Johnson. Thank you.

JOHNSON: My pleasure. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.