The jury in the trial of Paul Manafort seems to be deadlocked. According to The Hill, this is the third day of deliberation without a verdict. Members of the jury asked to deliberate through the early evening, ending around 6:15 pm and many saw this as a sign that they would be making a decision as to whether Manafort is guilty of tax fraud.
Manafort, 76, faces 18 counts of tax and bank fraud. According to The New York Times, prosecutors say that Manafort hid “millions of dollars of income” (roughly $30 million) that he received while consulting for pro-Russian Ukrainian leader, Viktor Yanukovych. Yanukovych fled the country in 2014, and the prosecution alleges that Manafort took to bank fraud in order to fund his lavish lifestyle. As The Cut reports, Manafort spent $15,000 on an ostrich jacket.
Manafort’s indictment alleges that he and his partner, Rick Gates, worked together to carry out the fraud. Though Gates pleaded “guilty to conspiracy to commit fraud and lying to the F.B.I.,” the defense alleged that it had been Gates who was the mastermind of their tax and bank fraud schemes.
The charges are one of several that stem from the Special Counsel investigation conducted by Robert Mueller, which aims to uncover Russian interference in the 2016 election, and whether or not President Trump was involved. The charges against Manafort stem from incidents that occurred prior to his position as Trump’s campaign chair.
The trial has been riddled with questions and requests from the jury. On Thursday, they asked questions on the definition of reasonable doubt. On Friday, they requested to leave at 5 p.m. so one member of the jury could attend an event. Come Monday, the jurors were quiet, and after no verdict had been reached, Judge T.S. Ellis III announced they would reconvene on Tuesday at 9:30 am.
Prior to taking their leave, Judge Ellis reminded the jurors, whose names have not been revealed to the public, to “put the matter out of [thier] mind” and refrain from talking to anyone about the trial.
Jurors certainly have enough to think about – over the two and a half weeks at trial, more than 350 documents have been submitted and 27 witnesses called. Many consider this trial a must-win for the prosecution. If they win, it serves as a boon to Special Counsel Mueller and his investigation. If they lose, it will add fuel to the fire stoked by Trump and his acolytes, who feel this is a “witch hunt.”
Though Manafort’s legal team did not address any questions from reporters on Monday night, they have said that the longer the jury takes to deliberate, “the better it is for their client.”