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Lone Manafort juror voted against convictions on more counts, another juror says


The jury in the trial of Paul Manafort would have convicted the former Trump campaign chairman on all 18 criminal charges if not for one juror who had questions about the reasonable doubt standard of guilt, a juror who wasn’t the one who posed the questions told Fox News on Wednesday.

“There was one holdout,” Paula Duncan said in an interview. “We all tried to convince her to look at the paper trail. We laid it out in front of her again and again, and she still said that she had a reasonable doubt.”

The jury on Tuesday found Manafort guilty on two counts of bank fraud, five counts of tax fraud and one charge of failing to disclose foreign bank accounts, giving special counsel Robert Mueller a victory in the first trial arising from his investigation of Russia’s role in the 2016 U.S. election.

But the jury of six men and six women could not reach consensus on 10 other counts.

Judge T.S. Ellis III, who oversaw the three-week trial in a U.S. Federal Court in Alexandria, Va., declared a mistrial on those 10 counts. In the first public comments by a juror in the case, Duncan said that 11 jurors were in agreement that Manafort was guilty on all 18 felony charges but that they could not get the one holdout to change her mind after nearly four days of deliberations.

“We didn’t want it to be hung so we tried for an extended period of time to convince her. But in the end, she held out and that’s why we have 10 counts that did not get a verdict.”

Duncan said she was speaking out to inform the public and that she was not concerned about her safety. Ellis said he had received threats and has not released juror names, citing worries about their safety.

“I thought that the public, America, needed to know how close this was and the evidence was overwhelming,” Duncan said.

Disregarded Manafort colleague testimony

Duncan said she was a Trump supporter and wanted to believe that Manafort was innocent. She noted that even his critics had described him as a brilliant political consultant and that Trump had trusted him with overseeing his campaign.

“I did not want Paul Manafort to be guilty. But he was and no one is above the law.”

Duncan said some of the jurors had a problem accepting the testimony of Rick Gates, Manafort’s former right-hand man, because he was testifying as part of a plea deal and “would have done anything that he could to preserve himself.”

She said the jury decided to not consider Gates’s testimony and focus instead on the documentary evidence. Duncan had tough words for lawyers on both sides.

She said the prosecution looked bored at times and that she saw two of them napping.

Manafort’s lawyers, on the other hand, gave short cross-examinations, rarely objected and gave off an “easygoing” vibe, she said.

“I think I expected a little more,” Duncan said.

Duncan said the deliberations were heated at times, leading some jurors to tears at one point, but that politics did not influence their decision-making.

“I think we all went in there like we were supposed to and assumed that Mr. Manafort was innocent. We did due diligence, we applied the evidence, our notes, the witnesses and we came out with guilty verdicts on the eight counts,” she said.

The maximum time in prison for the counts Manafort was found guilty of totals 80 years, though he would be expected to receive much less when sentenced.

But Manafort faces another trial in the District of Columbia, scheduled for September, in which the charges include conspiracy to launder money, conspiracy against the United States, making false statements and charges in connection with failing to register as a foreign agent despite the fact he lobbied in the U.S. on behalf of the pro-Russian Ukrainian government of former president Viktor Yanukovych.

Trump in recent days has said he feels “very badly” for Manafort and has called him “brave,” appearing to laud him for not co-operating with prosecutors, in contrast to Trump’s former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen.

With files from CBC News





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