Alexandria | US President Donald Trump denounced “a very sad day” on Friday as he commented on the ongoing deliberations of his ex-campaign manager Paul Manafort’s bank and tax fraud suit, describing him as “a very good person” .
On the second day of the deliberations, the verdict did not seem imminent, the 12 jurors having asked in the afternoon, for personal reasons, to be able to shorten their meeting in camera from 17H00 and to continue it Monday.
Judge TS Ellis of the Alexandria Court, a suburb of Washington, agreed.
He had earlier confided in open court that he had received “threats” for this trial, and be under the protection of the police. The magistrate then responded to a request from a media group to lift the secret on several points, including the names of jurors, six men and six women.
“I received criticisms and threats, I can imagine that they too would receive,” he replied by rejecting this request. “I am under police protection. I had no idea that this issue would bring so much emotion. “
Sign of interest in this ultra-media trial: the US president has not hesitated to publicly criticize Friday in strong terms the current procedure.
“This is a very sad day for our country,” he said of the first trial of Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller’s investigation into suspicions of collusion in 2016 between his campaign team and Moscow.
This file is only a “witch hunt”, Donald Trump hammered again.
Former Republican political consultant and lobbyist, Paul Manafort, 69, has been on trial since July 31 for tax and banking frauds, between 2010 and 2014, linked to tens of millions of dollars drawn from his consulting activities with the former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, supported by Moscow.
These facts therefore relate to his personal finances and are not related to suspicions of collusion, but they were discovered during the investigations of the Mueller team.
“It’s very sad what they did to Paul Manafort,” Donald Trump told reporters, as his former advisor risks ending his life in jail.
Asked about the possibility of a presidential pardon in the event of a conviction, he replied: “I do not talk about it”.
Paul Manafort “worked for me for a very short time,” Donald Trump reassured, assuring that he was “very good.”
A former Republican consultant with a strong reputation in Washington, Mr. Manafort was his campaign manager for a key period between May and August 2016.
Incarcerated, he appeared more tired Friday at public hearings, but still dressed in an elegant suit.
18 counts of indictment
After 12 days of testimony marked by the colorful descriptions of improbable jackets, rich homes and massive flowers cut in the shape of his initial “M”, jurors must decide, unanimously, on 18 counts of indictment.
Prosecutors accuse Mr. Manafort of knowingly circumventing the laws to enrich himself by defrauding the US taxman, then presenting false statements to banks for loans, when his income dried up, after the leak of Viktor Yanukovych of Ukraine in 2014.
Between 2010 and 2014, he controlled 31 unregistered accounts abroad, which passed more than $ 60 million, according to prosecutors.
The defense presents him as a professional too busy to deal with the detail of his accounts and blames a former deputy, Rick Gates, the star witness of the trial.
The latter, aged 46, has pleaded guilty and cooperates with the Mueller team. The defense attacked its credibility head-on.
Of the 30 or so individuals already targeted by Robert Mueller, Paul Manafort is the only American to have refused an agreement with the courts to avoid a trial.