ARLINGTON, Va., Aug 21 (Reuters) - Jurors in the fraud trial of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort are set to begin their fourth day of deliberations on Tuesday morning.
On Monday, the 12 jurors ended their day in federal court in Alexandria, Virginia, at 6:15 p.m., working at least 45 minutes longer than on previous days.
Manafort faces 18 criminal charges including for allegedly falsifying his tax returns, committing bank fraud and failing to file reports of foreign bank accounts.
It is the first trial stemming from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. election, although the charges largely predate Manafort’s five months working on Donald Trump’s successful campaign.
But a Manafort conviction would undermine efforts by Trump and some Republican lawmakers to paint Mueller’s Russia inquiry as a political witch hunt. An acquittal would be a setback for the special counsel.
Aaron Wolfson, a former prosecutor in New York, noted that it was not uncommon for juries to be out “five, six or seven days” in complicated cases.
“I think the jurors all know how serious this case is and they want to take the time and go through the evidence and the charges,” said Wolfson. “Staying until 6:15 shows they’re working hard, and there was something they wanted to finish.”
Over two weeks of testimony, prosecutors presented evidence that Manafort evaded U.S. income taxes on $16 million he earned as a political consultant for pro-Russian politicians in Ukraine and then lied to banks to secure $20 million in loans after his Ukrainian income dried up and he needed cash.
Manafort’s former right-hand man, Rick Gates, took the stand for the prosecution, along with 26 other witnesses. Gates, also a former Trump campaign aide, was indicted along with Manafort but pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate with the government.
Jurors also were given 388 exhibits, including some that showed how Manafort spent money on luxuries including a $15,000 ostrich jacket, a $21,000 watch and $6 million in U.S. real estate.
The defense rested its case without presenting any witnesses, although Manafort attorney Kevin Downing raised credibility issues in his cross-examination of Gates.
Reporting by Karen Freifeld and Nathan Layne in Alexandria, Va.; Editing by Peter Cooney