Judge in Manafort case won't unseal juror names, saying he's received threats

Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort goes through security as he arrives at federal court in Washington

After a trial spanning almost three weeks, Manafort, 69, is awaiting a verdict on 18 tax evasion and bank fraud charges.

He will also not release the names of jurors at the trial's conclusion because he fears for their safety.

Judge TS Ellis also said he had received threats himself over the case. "I'm not sure why, but there have been certain exchanges at sidebar that have seemed not all that judicious to me", he said.

The judge said he is now under the protection of USA marshals.

Before leaving for the day Thursday, the jury sent Ellis four questions, including one asking whether he could "redefine" the meaning of "reasonable doubt", the legal threshold for acquitting a defendant.

"I think the whole Manafort trial is very sad", Trump said, responding to shouted out questions from the press.

He said at the White House that it was "a very sad day for our country" and that Manafort had "worked for me for a very short period of time".

The Ukrainian government found ledgers pledging more than $12m (£9.2m) in cash to Mr Manafort for his advisory work with former President Viktor Yanukovych while he was in office, the New York Times reported.

"If you're Paul Manafort and you hear about that and we all know Paul Manafort's heard about that, it's hard to read that as anything other than a message to Manafort, hold on, don't cut a deal with the government while the jury is out, which defendants sometimes do".

Trump has called Mueller's investigation a witch hunt and has complained about Manafort's treatment.

A courtroom sketch depicts Paul Manafort fourth from right standing with his lawyers in front of US district Judge
Jury in trial of ex-Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort submits four questions to judge

"I think it's very sad what they've done to Paul Manafort", he added.

Ellis began the jury instructions on Wednesday after the prosecution and defense delivered closing arguments, and finished on Thursday morning.

As president, Trump has the power to pardon Manafort on the federal charges.

He is then believed to have lied to banks to get loans when the money ran out - and is now facing 18 felony counts on tax evasion and bank fraud. If convicted on all the charges, he could spend the rest of his life in prison.

Jurors in the trial are not sequestered but have been instructed not to watch news reports or talk to others about the matter. In the U.S. legal system, juries are required to find a defendant guilty of a crime "beyond a reasonable doubt".

The judge made the comments after receiving requests from the media for the jurors' personal information.

The financial fraud trial is the first courtroom test of the ongoing Russian Federation probe led by special counsel Robert Mueller.

"I have the Marshals' protection", Ellis said.

"I think it was very ill-advised for the president to do this".


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