Manafort judge alludes to 'threats' in not releasing jurors' names

Tuesday, 21 Aug, 2018

The judge presiding over the trial of veteran political consultant Paul Manafort said on August 17 that he received threats related to the trial and was being protected by USA marshals.

According to the Hill, Judge Ellis, in denying the left-leaning outlets' request, claimed that more of the jury pool would have asked to be excused if the jurors had known their names would be made public.

In the United States jury lists are presumed to be public unless a judge has good reason for keeping them secret. "I don't feel right if I release their names", the judge said. "I think there would be a substantial amount of people do so would create a risk of harm to them".

Judge Ellis said he also plans to release the transcripts of bench conferences now sealed by the court with one exception - likely a discussion which relates to information from Mr Mueller's investigators about its ongoing investigation. He declined to release those names, citing threats he had received and the fact that he is now receiving US marshals service protection.

"I had no idea this case would excite these emotions, I will tell you frankly", Judge Ellis added. He faces 18 felony counts on tax evasion and bank fraud. When he did offer thoughts on the trial moments later, he continued to attempt to put daylight between himself and his former campaign chair, telling reporters Manafort "worked for [him] for a very short period of time". "And I think it's very sad what they've done to Paul Manafort". "And I think it's very sad what they've done to Paul Manafort".

Mr. Trump did not address whether he would pardon Manafort when asked about the trial on Friday.

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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. But the trial is being seen as a key test of the strength of Mueller's investigation, which is probing alleged ties between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin.

But Manafort's fate was far from clear. Manafort also was charged with receiving loans from the Federal Savings Bank after one of its executives sought a position in the Trump campaign and administration, according to prosecutors. It exposed details about the lavish lifestyle of the onetime political insider, including a $15,000 jacket made of ostrich leather and $900,000 spent at a boutique retailer in NY via worldwide wire transfer.

Jurors ended their second day of deliberations Friday a half-hour early, without reaching a verdict.

The jury sent a note on Thursday afternoon asking Ellis four questions including one about defining "reasonable doubt".

Jurors told the judge they wish to continue working until 6:15 Monday.

The evidence for the two trials largely doesn't overlap, according to a court filing Thursday from Manafort's legal team.