Former Donald Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort and his trial took a huge turn today when the jury asked the judge one very important question, according to the Hill.
They asked, “what they should do if they can’t come to a consensus on a single count,” and this could indicate that the jury is getting close to a verdict. A note seems to suggest that “the jury is having difficulty coming to a conclusion on at least one of the 18 criminal bank and tax fraud” allegations which have plagued the former manager. This questioning of the charge may be an ominous move for Special Council Robert Mueller.
The judge read a note which said, “Your honor, if we cannot come to a consensus on a single count, how do we fill out the jury verdict form for that count and what does that mean for the final verdict?” This letter was read in open court and it could mean that an important conclusion to what the White House calls a “witch hunt” is on the horizon.
Then again, a jury is not a room full of legal experts, so asking such questions is anything but rare, a fact addressed by the judge. “This is not an exceptional or unusual event in a jury trial,” stated Judge T.S. Ellis III. Court reconvened at 11:30 a.m., he also confirmed.
The judge did admit that the note gives him some clue as to where the jury may be in their deliberations and “suggests he knows the answer,” but he had no intentions of asking them where they were at this time.
The jury wanted “a new verdict form,” as well, and that request was denied.
Kevin Downing, attorney for Manafort, voiced his objections to the fact that a third option was not given to the jury, the option: a hung jury for each of the counts against his client. This is another nuance that could appear to show that Mr. Trump is correct in the bias of this case.
Downing’s concern is that the jury may feel that this option is “inappropriate.”
The judge did remind the jurors to re-examine their views and if they appear now to be flawed now, to change them accordingly. “In conferring together, each of you should pay attention and respect the views of the other,” Ellis said.
He also was a bit disgruntled with the press who rushed out of the courtroom to report on breaking news. The judge reminded them that they “could run in and out of the overflow courtroom three floors below as much as they please.” From there, “the court marshal prevented any other reporters from leaving the room until the proceedings were adjourned.”
As the case against Manafort is analyzed, it does look to some pundits like he is being scrutinized and demonized because of his association and support of President Donald Trump, a man who the establishment appears to dislike greatly. After all, it does not look like any of the charges against Manafort have anything to do with Mr. Trump.
However, it does keep his name in a negative light, and perhaps that is what this “witch hunt” is really about to begin with.