Manafort judge refuses to name jurors over safety fears

Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort goes through security as he arrives at federal court in Washington

Before leaving for the day Thursday, the jury sent Ellis four questions, including one asking whether he could "redefine" the meaning of "reasonable doubt", the legal threshold for acquitting a defendant. Among other items, the jury requested details on the definition of reasonable doubt.

The judge presiding over the fraud trial of former Trump campaign Paul Manafort says he won't release the names of jurors at the trial's conclusion because he fears for their safety and because he himself has received threats.

Ellis revealed the threats as he rejected a motion by a group of news organizations to make public the names of the jurors, saying he was concerned about their "peace and safety". He told attorneys "I'm no stranger to criticism", but said "this case has brought it to a new level".

This Aug. 7, 2018, courtroom sketch depicts Rick Gates, right, testifying during questioning in the bank fraud and tax evasion trial of Paul Manafort at federal court in Alexandria, Va. U.S. district Judge T.S. Ellis III presides at top right.

Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort goes through security as he arrives at federal court in Washington.

The jury's been deliberating.

"I think the whole Manafort trial is very sad", Trump told reporters before boarding Marine One on Friday. "They had some questions which the judge addressed, and they've asked to come back tomorrow to continue deliberation", Downing said.

A courtroom sketch depicts Paul Manafort fourth from right standing with his lawyers in front of US district Judge
Jury in trial of ex-Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort submits four questions to judge

"Because this is a "paper case" with a number of charges, complicated financial records, and a lay jury not selected for its understanding of global financial transactions, we would expect a medium-length to long deliberation process - at least a couple days - simply for the jurors to work through all the evidence and discuss each charge separately", lawyer and professor Seth Abramson said in an email Friday.

It was their second day to deliberate 18 tax and bank fraud charges Manafort faces for allegedly hiding millions of dollars from the Internal Revenue Service in overseas bank accounts. If convicted on all the charges, he could spend the rest of his life in prison.

The verdict could have major political consequences for Mueller's probe into whether Trump's campaign helped Russian Federation interfere with the 2016 presidential election.

Trump had previously indicated that he found Manafort's treatment by the Justice Department "very unfair".

On Friday he accused Mr Mueller of having "a lot of conflicts" but said the special counsel should be allowed to finish a report on Russia's role in the 2016 election.

"I think it's all a good sign, yes", he said.

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