The trial case against Paul Manafort over money laundering and tax evasion has entered jury deliberations. Kevin Johnson reports from Alexandria, Va.
ALEXANDRIA, Va. â€“ The jury in the tax and bank fraud trial ofÂ Paul Manafort, the former Trump campaign chairman, headed home for theÂ weekend without reaching a verdict. The panel will reconvene Monday.
A juror sent a note to U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III requesting a 5 p.m. recess because of a previously scheduled “event.” The nature of the event was not disclosed.Â Ellis approved the request.
Earlier on Friday, the judge said he was “optimistic that the case might end soon.”
On Thursday, jurors deliberated for more than six hoursÂ and recessed after submitting four questions to Ellis, including a request for a redefinition of “reasonable doubt.”
The panel must determine guilt beyond a reasonable doubt in order to convict Manafort on the 18 counts of tax and bank fraud lodged against him.
Separately, Ellis raised eyebrows Friday when he revealed that he had received unspecified threats during the trial and is under the protection of U.S. marshals. The judge made the disclosure during a separate hearing in which a coalition of news organizations sought the identities of jurors serving in the Manafort case.
Because of the intense public interest in the case and the emotion it has generated–including the threats against the 78-year-old jurist â€“ Ellis said he would refuse to release the jurors’ identities, at least for now.
The news organizations also appealed for the release of transcripts of secret bench conferences during the case involving prosecutors and Manafort’s attorneys. Ellis said many of those transcripts, with the exception of a discussion about the ongoing investigation by Russia special counsel Robert Mueller, would be made public at the end of the trial.
Some of the matters, Ellis acknowledged Friday, involved unspecified issues related to the jury.
More: Manafort trial: Jury asks judge to redefine ‘reasonable doubt’ during first day of deliberations
More: Manafort trial: Why ‘reasonable doubt’ is hard to define in courtrooms
Prosecutors and defense attorneys have huddled privately numerous times throughout the trial, and only rarely have the contents of those meetings been disclosed.
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Dana Verkouteren, AP Dana Verkouteren, AP
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Five key points that could sway the jury in Paul Manafort’s trial â€” and determine his fate
More: Paul Manafort trial: Judge T.S. Ellis III known as taskmaster, unafraid to speak his mind
Manafort is facing life in prison if he’s found guilty on all of the 18 counts laid against him. The harshest sentence is likely if he’s found guilty in the alleged bank fraud scheme prosecutors outlined during the trial.Â
Prosecutors offered documents and witnesses who testified that Manafort lied about his income and debt while seeking bank loans and directed his associates toÂ doctor documents.Â In all, prosecutors have alleged that Manafort fraudulently secured more than $20 million in bank loans.
As President Trump was leaving the White House Friday and while jurors were still deliberating, the president attacked the Manafort trial and called it “very sad.”Â He wouldn’t discuss whether he’d consider pardoning Manafort if he was found guilty on any counts.Â
“When youÂ look at whatâ€™s going on there, I think itâ€™s a very sad day for our country,” the president said. “He worked for me for a very short period of time.Â But you know what?Â He happens to be a very good person.Â
Trump added: “And I think itâ€™s very sad what theyâ€™ve done to Paul Manafort.”
President Donald Trump refused to say whether he would pardon Paul Manafort, calling him a “very good person” as he left the White House for New York. Trump also again called out Turkey, saying the country has been a “problem for a long time.” (Aug. 17)
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