ALEXANDRIA, Va. — The jury weighing the fate of Paul Manafort late Tuesday morning indicated it may be close to a final verdict on its fourth day of deliberations, by asking the federal judge overseeing the case what it means if it cannot come to a consensus on one of the 18 counts the former Trump campaign chairman is facing.
The jury submitted a note to the court just after 11 a.m., which U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III read to the lawyers for both Manafort and the federal government.
“Your honor, If we cannot come to a consensus on a single count, how should we fill in the jury verdict form for that count? And what does that mean for the final verdict?” the note, signed by the jury foreman, read. “We will need another form please.”
Manafort is charged with 18 counts of tax and bank fraud in the Eastern District of Virginia. It is unclear which of the 18 charges the jury is hung up on.
Ellis said he does not yet plan to ask the jury if it has reached a unanimous decision on the other 17 counts, but he admitted, “This note would suggest I know the answer but I’m not sure.”
Ellis explained the note from the jury is not “exceptional or unusual” in a jury trial. He explained that at this stage in a trial, the “main principle” he must adhere to is “not to do or say anything that’s coercive to the jury.”
Ellis brought the jurors — six men and six women — into the courtroom just before 11:50 a.m. and re-read the note. He then provided them with additional instructions.
He sent the jurors back to keep working just before noon, and said that he would not ask them for a partial verdict at this time.
Manafort’s trial is the first from special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and has garnered intense attention from the media and the public.
If convicted of all 18 charges, Manafort, who has pleaded not guilty, could spend the rest of his life in prison. He was present in court in a black suit Tuesday, along with his wife.
The trial began July 31 and over a span of three weeks, the 12-member jury heard testimony from 27 witnesses and viewed more than 350 exhibits from the government.
Manafort’s defense attorneys chose not to call any witnesses to the stand, and Manafort himself also declined to testify.
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