Ex-Trump lawyer pleads guilty, implicates Trump in hush-money scheme - USA

Michael Cohen is the closest member of President Trump’s inner circle to come under criminal investigation

Michael Cohen is the closest member of President Trump’s inner circle to come under criminal investigationHECTOR RETAMAL AFP Getty Images

In a split screen for the history books, Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort was convicted of financial crimes at almost the same moment Tuesday that Trump's former personal attorney Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to a series of felonies, including campaign finance violations that the lawyer said he carried out in coordination with Trump.

The one juror who prevented a conviction of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort on all 18 criminal charges did not trust any of the witnesses and exasperated other members with her reasoning, a juror in the trial told Reuters. The jury said it was deadlocked on the 10 others.

Cohen's accusation increases political pressure for Trump ahead of November's congressional elections where Democrats are trying to regain control of the House of Representatives and Senate.

Manafort's lawyers, she said, gave short cross-examinations, seldom objected and appeared "easy going". Downing added that he was "evaluating all of his options".

Each of the bank fraud counts carries a significant maximum sentence and the 69-year-old could theoretically live out the remainder of his years in prison - though a legal expert contacted by AFP predicted his sentence would in reality last less than a decade.

In one instance, prosecutors said "Corporation-1" - whose description matches public descriptions of the National Enquirer, entered into an agreement in August 2016 to buy the story of one woman, Karen McDougal, identified as "Woman-1", for $150,000.

Michael Avenatti says Cohen's plea should open the door to questioning Trump about "what he knew, when he knew it, and what he did about it".

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What dose this mean for the Mueller probe? At the rally Trump made oblique but impassioned comments about Manafort and the Mueller probe.

The charges on which Manafort was convicted didn't involve allegations of illegal collusion between Trump's campaign and Russia, Mueller's primary focus.

This popular sentiment is a vital currency for the Trump administration. Cohen then sought reimbursement for the payments in 2017 by writing invoices for legal services to Trump's company. His attorneys said he made the decision because he didn't believe the government had met its burden of proof.

In regards to the prosecution's star witness and Manafort's former business partner, Rick Gates, Duncan said the jury did not find his testimony to be credible.

Gates spent three days on the stand, telling jurors how he committed crimes alongside Manafort for years.

The scratch-outs also reveal why the jury may have asked for a new verdict form the morning they returned the verdict.

Prosecutors say Mr. Manafort hid tens of millions of dollars in foreign income from Ukraine. Overall, they said, he avoided paying more than $16 million in taxes.

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"I saw them napping during the trial", Duncan said, citing in particular prosecutors Brandon Van Grack and Greg Andres.

The transcript shows that jurors were, in fact, questioned individually by the judge, with Ellis providing repeated assurances by telling them his questions were routine and nothing to be concerned about. However, the Judge T.S. Ellis ultimately rejected the defense's calls for a mistrial, saying he did not see sufficient evidence for it.

After the trial, Ellis complimented lawyers on both sides for "zealous and effective representation".

But David Axelrod, a Democratic strategist and longtime adviser to former president Barack Obama, said that Tuesday "was a catastrophic day". Even a sentence of 10 years could take from him prime years of his life.

Manafort's defense attorney, Richard Wrestling, argued the chit-chat was a sufficient reason to declare a mistrial.

He still faces a second set of criminal charges in a Washington, DC, federal court, of failure to register his foreign lobbying and of money laundering conspiracy related to the same Ukrainian political work that was central to the Virginia case.

That comment might be taking into account information that was public but not presented to jurors.

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