Jurors began deliberating Thursday morning as to whether Paul Manafort, President Trump’s former campaign chairman, is guilty of 18 counts of bank and tax fraud.
Manafort could face the rest of his life behind bars for crimes allegedly committed before he joined the Trump team. The evidence includes a paper trail of falsified records, documents and emails in the first case to go to trial from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia inquiry.
“It also is a foreshadowing of what might come as it relates to the Russia collusion investigation,” said former assistant U.S. attorney legal analyst, Daniel Goldman.
President Trump has both defended and distanced himself from his one-time campaign manager, but there is a possibility that he could decide to pardon Manafort. “It sets up an argument that Donald Trump could use to say that Paul Manafort was treated very unfairly, which is the exact language he used in a recent tweet and its the exact language he has used prior to pardoning others,” said Goldman.
Manafort still faces another trial in Washington D.C. for money laundering and failing to register as a foreign agent set to start next month.