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Manafort defense: 'It is not enough to think someone is probably guilty or likely guilty'

Manafort attorney Richard Westling has kicked off his closing argument, which he will split with Kevin Downing.

Westling start by re-introducing himself to the jury, saying he and his team “are proud and honored to be able to represent Paul Manafort throughout this trial.”

He thanked the jury for their time, attention and service.

He emphasized that Manafort has the presumption of innocence, while the government maintains the burden of proof to prove beyond a reasonable doubt he is guilty. He added that the defense has non burden of proof, and they made the decision not to put up any evidence. “Your job is to ensure the burden is met,” he said.

“Mr. Manafort is innocent,” and will be until the jury rules otherwise, Westling said.

Westling also displayed a chart showing the scale from proven not guilty up through guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.”

“It is not enough to think someone is probably guilty or likely guilty,” he said. He asked the jury to keep this rating scale in mind, and to “hold the government to its burden, ladies and gentlemen.”

Westling then moved on to Manafort’s reputation as a talented political consultant who “endeavored to serve,” working for the campaigns of Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, George HW Bush, Bob Dole and Donald Trump.

He spoke of setting up successful consultancies, adding “he turned to other people to work as a team.” And he said Manafort’s involving bookkeepers, accountants and Gates into his finances was “not consistent with someone attempting to commit a fraud.”

Hinting at Gates, Westling said Manafort relied on people in his consultancies — “Sometimes they are trustworthy, sometimes they are not.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

A: No.


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