ALEXANDRIA, Va. â€“ The federal judge heading the financial fraud trial of Paul Manafort said Friday that he has received unspecified threats during the case and is under the protection of U.S. Marshals.
U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III made the disclosure while presiding in a hearing where a coalition of news organizations sought the disclosure of jurors’ identities and the contents of several secret bench discussionsÂ with prosecutors and Manafortâ€™s attorneys. For now, Ellis said he would refuse to release theÂ names of the six women and six men on the panel, in part because of the threats he has received.
â€œI wonâ€™t tell you what threats Iâ€™ve received, but I have the protection of the Marshals,â€ Ellis said.Â â€œI donâ€™t feel right if I release their names,â€ he said.
Ellis said that he had not anticipated the intense public interest in the case and the emotion surrounding it before the former Trump campaign manager’s trial began more than two weeks ago.
“I did not understand how this case would be perceived by the public,” Ellis said.
Since the start of jury selection, the case has drawn packed galleries to the ninth-floor courtroom and to an overflow courtroom three floors below that hosts a closed-circuit broadcast of the proceedings.
In more than three decades on the bench, Ellis said he could recall only one or two cases in which he felt such concern for jurors’ security.
Ellis said that if jurors knew at the start of the process that their names would be disclosed “a number of people would be scared.”