U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday defended his former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, as a "good person", as a jury at a Virginia federal court entered the second day of deliberations in Manafort's bank and tax fraud trial. The jury's request to go longer raised speculation a verdict might be near.
Twice Monday morning, Ellis met with prosecutors and Manafort's attorneys for secretive bench meetings.
A Manafort conviction would undermine efforts by Trump and some Republican lawmakers to paint Mueller's Russian Federation inquiry as a political witch hunt, while an acquittal would be a setback for the special counsel.
The president didn't give an answer when asked if he is prepared to pardon Manafort, a veteran lobbyist who joined Trump's campaign team in March 2016 and spent three months as Trump's campaign chairman until mid August of that year.
Wu said he still saw a chance of acquittals on the four counts of failing to disclose foreign bank accounts, citing the jury's technical question on Thursday about the ownership and control threshold requirements for such disclosures.
However, the trial "might end soon", Ellis told reporters later.
During the two-week trial, prosecutors said Manafort hid millions of dollars in offshore accounts in order to avoid paying USA taxes.
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Manafort's business associate, Rick Gates, testified they used shelf companies that were previously created by a lawyer in Cyprus.
Prosecutors displayed in sometimes painstaking details the lavish life Manafort led, hoping to showcase he was living beyond his means and using money from the fraudulent loans to pay for his homes, expensive cars and luxurious closet filled with tailored suits.
Jurors also were shown photos of high-end clothes, including a $15,000 ostrich jacket and $18,000 python jacket Manafort purchased with the funds.
Manafort's attorneys didn't call witnesses in his defense, claiming the prosecution failed to meet its burden of proof.
It also worked to discredit the key prosecution witness in the case, Trump's former deputy campaign manager Rick Gates, who had already pleaded guilty to helping hide millions in income from US tax authorities.
Manafort is charged with 18 felony counts dealing with tax evasion and bank fraud.
Manafort is also facing a separate trial in Washington D.C. on charges of money laundering and fraud conspiracy, which is scheduled for September.