Judge T.S. Ellis III, who is presiding over the Paul Manafort trial, has rejected a request from the press to release juror information, citing concerns over his own safety. Fox News reports that in speaking about the request, Ellis stated that “there have been [threats]” considered serious enough that U.S. Marshals now follow him everywhere he goes. Without providing details about the threats, he added that he is “no stranger to criticism” but that the Manafort trial has “brought it to a new level.” Ellis said that he fears that releasing names of the jurors would put them in similar danger and wouldn’t “feel right if I release their names” since they wouldn’t have the advantage of the kind of protection he has. The ruling doesn’t, however, mean that the jurors can never speak about their experience. Once the trial convenes, each of them can make their own decision about how much they wish to speak with the media.
The request was filed by multiple media organizations including BuzzFeed, CNN, Politico, NBC, New York Times, Washington Post, and Associated Press. There was also a motion to release records related to sidebar conversations and bench conferences. That motion was also denied. Ellis indicated that those records would be made available to the public at the close of the trial.
— CNN Breaking News (@cnnbrk) August 17, 2018
As reported by CNN, Paul Manafort stands accused of 18 counts of tax evasion, bank fraud, and hiding foreign bank accounts. The charges were brought as a result of discoveries made by special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. The charges are in no way related to the 2016 election but rather focus on Manafort’s finances.
Prosecutors specifically state that Paul Manafort accumulated $65 million in foreign bank accounts from 2010 to 2014 and spent over $15 million on luxury items during the same time period. Among his alleged purchases were real estate, clothing, and landscaping. They also charge that he lied to banks in order to obtain loans in 2015 and hid foreign accounts from authorities. Prosecutors also allege that after a Federal Savings Bank executive asked about a position in Trump’s 2016 campaign and administration, Paul Manafort received a loan from Federal Savings Bank. Prosecutor Greg Andres told jurors, “Mr. Manafort lied to keep money when he had it, and he lied to get more money when he didn’t. This is a case about lies.” He has pleaded not guilty to all charges and faces up to 305 years in jail if convicted on all charges.