Paul Manafort is nowhere near the end of his legal saga.
For the former Trump campaign chairman, convicted Tuesday of tax and bank fraud, a number of factors could still determine his fate. Will his lawyers try to work some deal with prosecutors? Could the president, who tweeted Wednesday morning that he felt “very badly for Paul Manafort and his wonderful family,” pardon his onetime campaign chairman?
Manafort also faces another jury trial in Washington, D.C., that’s set to begin Sept. 17. Judge Amy Berman Jackson, an Obama appointee to the district court in D.C., will oversee that case.
The longtime political consultant was found guilty of eight counts of tax and bank fraud Tuesday. U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III declared a mistrial on the remaining 10 counts after jurors failed to reach consensus on them.
Here are some questions—and answers—about what’s next:
➤ Will the government retry Manafort?
That remains to be seen. Prosecutors said Tuesday they would submit a court filing discussing what they intended to do with the 10 remaining counts by Aug. 29. What we do know is that the government has another trial coming up in just a few weeks in Washington.
➤ And what about an appeal?
Criminal defendants who lose at trial don’t always fold their cards and accept their fate. Richard Westling, a Manafort defense lawyer, asked Ellis Tuesday to extend the deadline for Manafort’s attorneys to file motions for acquittal or a new trial to 30 days. If there’s an appeal, we can expect the defense to attack rulings that permitted certain evidence to be presented to the jury.
➤ What’s left in Alexandria federal district court?
As the trial neared its conclusion, several media outlets joined together to request access to sealed transcripts of bench conferences, along with the names of jurors. Ellis said he planned to unseal much of the bench conference transcripts following the trial, but he was less inclined to provide jurors’ names. Noting that he himself had received threats during the trial, Ellis cited concerns for the jurors’ safety in denying the request Ballard Spahr filed on behalf of the media organizations, including CNN and the New York Times.
On Tuesday, Ellis ordered that the jurors’ names remain under seal “until further order of this court.” The jurors indicated Tuesday that they would prefer their names remain secret.
➤ What about a plea at this point?
That idea was coming up Tuesday night as lawyers opined on the cable shows. Manafort would agree to a plea deal of some sort, resolving the Washington, D.C., case, in exchange for leniency on any prison term. The government would agree to drop the mistrial charges in Virginia, and demand Manafort cooperate with the ongoing investigation. Manafort has so far taken a hard line against the special counsel prosecutors, refusing to cooperate with their investigation. But prosecutors now have more leverage over him with Tuesday’s verdict.
➤ Does the Virginia verdict have any impact on the D.C. trial?
Not directly. But we can be assured the Washington trial judge, Amy Berman Jackson, will quiz potential jurors about their exposure to the Virginia litigation.
➤ How is the evidence different in the D.C. trial?
Manafort is fighting charges in the district that he laundered money, tampered with possible witnesses, and failed to disclose his previous foreign lobbying work. The trial features a rare prosecution under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, a 1938 law that was drafted to expose Nazi propaganda efforts.
That means much of the evidence in the Washington trial will center around Manafort’s past lobbying schemes on behalf of Viktor Yanukovych, prime minister of Ukraine between 2010 and 2014, and the Party of Regions, the pro-Russian political party Yanukovych led.
One thing to expect: Prosecutors are likely to introduce more evidence in D.C. than they did in Virginia. In a court filing last week, Manafort lawyer Kevin Downing said the special counsel’s team provided counsel “with well over 1,000 proposed exhibits—most of which have not been a part of the trial before Judge Ellis.” Jackson, in an order, said “the government is encouraged to review the exhibit list closely with an eye towards streamlining the presentation of its case.”
➤ Will Manafort go to jail? And, if so, for how long?
Slow down there. We’re a long way from any sentencing, but as things stand, Manafort faces a substantial prison sentence. His defense lawyers would likely present character witnesses on the stand at sentencing, and argue that Manafort has already suffered a devastating blow to his reputation.