I’m receiving death threats, says Judge presiding over Manafort trial

Alexandria, Virginia –  Jury deliberations have resumed in the financial fraud trial of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

Monday marks the third day that jurors ponder the 18-count indictment.

Federal prosecutors in the trial in Alexandria, Virginia, allege that Manafort hid tens of millions of dollars in foreign income. They also say he lied on loan applications to obtain millions more to maintain a lavish lifestyle.

Manafort’s attorneys didn’t call witnesses in his defense, claiming the prosecution had failed to meet its burden of proof. His attorneys attacked the credibility of a key witness, one-time Manafort protege Rick Gates.

The trial is the first courtroom test of the Russia probe led by special counsel Robert Mueller, though the case doesn’t involve allegations of Russian election interference.

Judge T.S. Ellis, the man presiding over the criminal trial of former Trump campaign chief Paul Manafort, said Friday that he has received threats about the case — and now travels with protection from the U.S. Marshal Service.

Media outlets including NBC News had requested the names and addresses of the jurors be unsealed.

Ellis also says he has no plan to release the names and home addresses of those 12 people now deliberating Manafort’s fate because he is worried about their “peace and safety.”

“I had no idea this case would excite these emotions, I can tell you that frankly,” Ellis said, as jurors continued their third day of deliberations in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Virginia. “I don’t feel right if I release their names.”

“I have no reason to believe that if those names are unsealed there won’t be threats against them,” Ellis said of the jurors, who do not have protection by U.S. Marshals.

They also were asking Ellis to unseal discussions Ellis had with prosecutors and defense lawyers outside of the earshot of others in court during Manafort’s trial, where he is charged with bank fraud and tax crimes.

Ellis said he will not release the transcript of one sidebar conference that relates to an ongoing investigation, but did say that after the trial ends he will unseal transcripts related to the administration of the jury.

Manafort is being prosecuted by members of the team of special counsel Robert Mueller.

Mueller is investigating possible obstruction of justice by President Donald Trump in the inquiry into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, and possible collusion by members of Trump’s campaign with that Kremlin-backed effort.

Trump has adamantly denied any wrongdoing.

The case against Manafort relates to income he earned while working for a pro-Russia political party in Ukraine, before he became involved in the Trump campaign. Manafort is also accused of lying on loan applications to banks, which prosecutors claim he obtained to continue funding his lavish lifestyle after income from the Ukrainian party dried up.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *