It really is no secret that there’s a very strong possibility that Donald Trump is planning to issue a pardon to his former campaign manager Paul Manafort after a jury convicted him on 8 of 18 charges in a federal courtroom last week. The remaining ten charges are still up in the air, and prosecutors could still decide to pursue them again, since he was not acquitted of those charges, but rather, the jury was deadlocked and a mistrial was declared on those charges only.
Maybe you didn’t know, however, that the jury hung up on those ten charges because of a single juror. One holdout on the jury had “reasonable doubts” about Manafort’s guilt on those particular counts — presumably because they involved the testimony of Manafort’s former associate and fellow Trump campaign asset Rick Gates, who the defense painted as an unreliable witness.
Now a law professor explains how that one juror may be the reason that Manafort goes to prison even if Trump issues a pardon for the charges he’s been convicted of. Jed Shugerman, a Yale-educated lawyer who now teaches law at Fordham University in New York, says that Manafort is in far more danger of incarceration than he was before the conclusion of his first trial.
The calculations behind a pardon are pretty obvious: Trump wants to avoid having another top associate testify against him, and if there were nothing that Robert Mueller’s special counsel could effectively threaten Manafort with — if Manafort could somehow be assured that he would never face consequences for his crimes — he could never be convinced to “flip” on his former boss.
The problem for Trump and Manafort is that the trial that just concluded was a federal case, and the charges he was convicted of were federal charges. The same is true for those on which the jury returned no verdict. But in many states, including Virginia, where the trial was held, “double jeopardy” rules that would normally prevent a defendant from being tried twice for the same crime do not apply to a situation in which they are then charged with the same crime at a state level.
But the two most important factors are these:
- A President can only pardon federal convictions, not state convictions, and
- Guilty verdicts from related federal cases are admissible as evidence in state court.
That means that Manafort could be charged in the state of Virginia with each one of the ten charges on which the federal jury did not return a verdict, the prosecution could use the eight charges he was convicted of as evidence in the state trial, and there’s absolutely no way for Donald Trump to get Manafort out of trouble.
You can read a breakdown of examples of how each charge might work and a more in-depth explanation here at Salon, where Shugerman authored a piece immediately after the trial.
Perhaps most importantly of all, Robert Mueller would almost certainly use any attempt by Trump to incentivize Manafort not to testify as further evidence of obstruction of justice. That’s one thing Trump is producing enough of all on his own.
Featured image via screen capture/composite