Judge Ellis Takes Issue with Term "Oligarch"
Before the jury was even called into the courtroom this morning, Judge T.S. Ellis had some opinions to tell the court.
First, he expressed some impatience with the prosecution spending considerable time establishing the fact that Paul Manafort did extensive work in Ukraine. Tad Devine, the government’s first witness yesterday, filled that purpose, as Daniel Rabin, the government’s second witness who is next to take the stand, is intended to do today.
But the judge took particular offense to the term “oligarch,” which prosecutor Greg Andres used yesterday in reference to those financing Viktor Yanukovych’s campaign. Ever the traditionalist, Ellis referred to the definition of “oligarchy,” where power resides in a select few.
“I suppose high schools are oligarchies in that sense,” Ellis said.
He said that use of the term “oligarch” implies Manafort is consorting with criminals, and there will be no evidence presented to the court about them. “The only thing we know is that they have a lot of money.”
So do George Soros and the Koch brothers, he added, but they wouldn’t be referred to as “oligarchs.”
He added that the term has taken on a “pejorative” connotation.
Andres tried to counter, but Ellis told him to “find another term to use” and suggested “he financed it.” He told Andres he could submit a brief explaining why he needs to use the word, which Andres indicated he would do.
“Nobody would refer to the principal of a high school as an oligarch,” but it could fit the definition, Ellis said.
Manafort guilty on 8 counts; mistrial declared on 10 other charges
A federal jury in Virginia convicted Paul Manafort, President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman, on eight counts on Tuesday, but the judge declared a mistrial on the 10 other charges he faced.
Manafort was convicted on five counts of tax fraud, one count of failing to file reports of foreign bank and financial accounts and two counts of bank fraud. A mistrial was declared in three counts of failing to file reports of foreign bank and financial accounts, and seven counts of bank fraud and bank fraud conspiracy.
The trial was the first public test of special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation, and while the special counsel was vindicated, the victory wasn't total.
Jury sent back for further deliberations
The jury has been sent back for further deliberations by Judge Ellis at 11:55. He said, "You should not change your honest conviction soley for the purpose of other jurors or just to come to a verdict.
Judge Ellis implored them to come to consensus, and if they then could not,he would consider the necessity of a hung jury.
Jury to judge: What if we can't come to a consensus on one count?
Jury submits question to judge on Day 4 of deliberations
The jury began Day 4 of deliberations in the Manafort fraud trial at 9:37 a.m., and just before 11 a.m., the jury delivered a note to the judge, prompting a flurry of activity.
It was a question, not a verdict: What if we can't come to a consensus on one count?
Jury begins day 3 of deliberations
Judge Ellis brought the jury into the courtroom promptly at 9:30 a.m. Monday morning and called roll. Jurors were asked if they were able to stay away from news reports and other influences over the weekend, and they all answered that they had.
Deliberations resumed at 9:34 a.m.
Jury dismissed for weekend with no verdict yet reached
Judge Ellis dismissed the jury for the weekend and told them to reconvene at 9:30 a.m. Monday.
Jurors were dismissed at 4:55 p.m.
Jury note: We want to go home at 5 p.m.
The jury gave Judge Ellis a note to let him know that they'll finish deliberations for the day at 5 p.m, because one of the members of the jury has an event they'd like to attend tonight.
Court will reconvene at 4:50 p.m. After that, the jury will be asked what time they wish to report on Monday.
Judge says he has gotten threats, won't reveal juror names
District Court Judge T.S. Ellis, who is overseeing the bank and tax fraud trial of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, said Friday that he has received threats that necessitate U.S. marshal protection to and from the courthouse.
"I had no idea that this case would excite these emotions, I will tell you that frankly," Ellis told the court as the jury deliberated for a second day. The case is being tried in Alexandria, Virginia.
Ellis's admission came during an afternoon hearing brought by a coalition of media outlets, including NBC News, to unseal juror names and bench conference transcripts of conversations the judge had with the defense and the prosecution.
Jury resumes deliberations, judge grants hearing to unseal documents
The jury resumed deliberations at 9:37 a.m. on Friday after being empaneled by Judge T.S. Ellis.
Judge Ellis also responded to a request from media organizations to unseal certain documents. Ellis granted the request to intervene and will schedule a hearing to hear arguments "sometime after 2 p.m."
He reiterated that all sealings in the case will be unsealed after the trial is over. It would be disruptive to unseal certain documents during the trial, he said. Nevertheless, he will consider the request.
"I'm no stranger to criticism," Ellis said. "This case has brought it to a new level."
Jury asks 4 questions, including query about reasonable doubt
The note, delivered to Judge Ellis minutes ago, contains four questions from the jury. The judge heard argument from both sides as to the answers.
Court is now dismissed for the day, and the jury will resume deliberations at 9:30 a.m. Friday.
Here are the questions from the jury, and the answers the judge gave.
Question: Is one required to file an FBAR if they own less than 50% of the company and no signatory authority?
Answer: After suggestion from the prosecution, Judge Ellis reread Jury Instruction #53, which defined FBARs, and the details surrounding FBARS.
ELLIS: A person is an owner of record (Owner of FBAR) if a person is acting on behalf of a US person with access and control of the account, OR if a US person who owned more than 50% of company.
Q: Define "shelf company"?
A: Rely on collective recollection.
Q: Can you redefine reasonable doubt?
A: The government is not required to prove beyond "all possible doubt," just doubt that can be reasoned.
Q: Can the exhibit list be amended to include the indictment?
Jury deliberations begin
The jury of six men and six women will soon begin to decide the fate of Paul Manafort. Judge T.S. Ellis brought in the jury to call roll and laid out the ground rules for deliberation.
"You may deliberate as little or as much as you like," Judge Ellis said.
The jury requested to deliberate in their break room because the actual jury room is too small. Ellis talked about how he was involved in the layout of the courthouse when it was being built. "I didn't pay attention to the size of the jury rooms," Ellis said. "I certainly paid attention to the size of my quarters."
Ellis granted the request.
Ellis called for a five minute recess after dismissing the jury to deliberate. Ellis said that he has other matters during the day and asked if those parties were in the courtroom.
"Mr. Trump, are you here?" he asked the courtroom. The response in the crowd was a mix of laughter and shock. Manafort himself turned around to look at the crowd with a smile.
Jim Trump, an local attorney, stood up and said that his case was next on the docket.