Today was Day 14 of Paul Manfort’s trial and the second day of jury deliberations. Manafort, who was “delegate wrangler,” sometime campaign manager and full-time grifter in the Trump campaign, is being tried on an 18 count indictment of income tax evasion and bank fraud. Two events have happened in the past two days, however, that, when taken together look like the media is trying to intimidate the jury.
Yesterday at around 4:50 p.m., the jury sent a note to Judge T. S. Ellis asking four questions:
Was someone was required to file a form called an Foreign Bank Account Report (FBAR) if they owned less than 50 percent of such an account and did not have signature authority but did have the ability to direct disbursement;
They asked the judge to define a “shelf company;”
They asked for an updated exhibit list; and
They asked if the judge could “redefine reasonable doubt.”
The last question set off all kinds of activity…with a lot of speculation being that the jury was wondering, given the shabbiness of the case, if the government had met its burden.
Today, CNN, Washington Post, BuzzFeed, POLITICO, New York Times, NBC Universal, and the Associated Press (sort of like old-home week for the folks who pushed the dossier, no?) filed a motion asking the judge to release, along with some sealed motions made during the case, the names and addresses of all the jurors. (Copy of the motion.)
This seems like a raw attempt at jury tampering. Like these news organizations were telling the jurors “we know where you live and if you f*** this up we’ve got you.” CNN’s goofy Andrew “I can bench press 260” Kaczynski went so bonkers over the idea that he nearly admits that was the intent:
Why, one might ask, would the names and addresses of jurors become a bit of information that is critical to protecting the First Amendment suddenly be an issue the day after the jury asked for “reasonable doubt” to be defined and not the day before? Or last week? Or why not wait until after the trial? They aren’t allowed to speak to the jurors until after the trial anyway. Perhaps…and I know this is stretching the imagination…they could wait until the jury is released and ASK them if they want to talk. Maybe they don’t want media trucks in front of their house.
Ellis ruled against the motion. He revealed that he’d had death threats and was under the protection of US Marshals and that he believed the jurors would be in danger, too, if he revealed their names. In fact, he hinted that some jurors may have received threats.
Paul Manafort’s trial will stretch into a fourth week, as jurors headed home Friday without reaching a verdict for the second straight day and the judge overseeing the case alluded to “threats” the jury may be receiving.
“I had no idea this case would incite this emotion,” U.S. District Court Judge T.S. Ellis III said in an open court hearing, responding to a motion from seven news organizations, including POLITICO, seeking access to sealed materials related to the trial that would have publicly identified the jurors.
Ellis denied the motion, telling the courtroom that jurors were “scared” and “afraid.” As a result, Ellis said, he didn’t “feel right” releasing the names of the 12-person jury.
So the message has been delivered from the Resistance to the jury by way of the media. Now we’ll have to see what happens.