Jury adjourns without verdict in Manafort trial

ALEXANDRIA, USA – The jury adjourned without reaching a verdict Monday, August 20, in the trial of President Donald Trump's former campaign chief Paul Manafort, the first resulting from the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

The jurors deliberated for more than 8 hours during their third day weighing the fate of Manafort, 69, who is accused of providing fraudulent statements to secure bank loans and failing to pay taxes on tens of millions of dollars he earned while advising Russian-backed politicians in Ukraine between 2006 and 2015.

Manafort "thinks it was a very good day," his lawyer Kevin Downing told journalists.

The jury will reconvene on Tuesday, August 21, at 9:30 am (1430 GMT), Judge T.S. Ellis said.

The case stems from Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election – and possible collusion between the Trump campaign team and Moscow.

While Manafort is not charged with any crimes related to his brief time as Trump's campaign chairman, the trial is seen as an important test for the Mueller probe, which Trump has repeatedly denounced as a "witch hunt."

"Where's the Collusion? They made up a phony crime called Collusion, and when there was no Collusion they say there was Obstruction (of a phony crime that never existed)," the president tweeted on Monday, referring to Mueller's investigators as "Angry Democrat Thugs."

Trump views the probe as a stain on his presidency, and frequently calls for its end.

He weighed in on the case Friday, August 17, in an extraordinary commentary by a sitting president about an ongoing trial.

Asked if he would pardon his former campaign chief if he is convicted, Trump declined to comment.

But he went on to say: "I think the whole Manafort trial is very sad."

"He worked for me for a very short period of time. But you know what? He happens to be a very good person," Trump said.

"I think it's very sad what they've done to Paul Manafort." – Rappler.com