ALEXANDRIA, VA — Judge T.S. Ellis on Thursday evening answered a few questions from the jurors in the Paul Manafort trial after the jury sent out a note seeking clarification on several issues. Ellis then dismissed the jury for the day, and they will return to their deliberations Friday at 9:30 a.m.
Ellis read the note for the attorneys and discussed his answers with the lawyers on both sides before calling in the jury to answer their questions.
After leaving the courtroom for the day, lead defense attorney Kevin Downing seemed pleased with the questions the jury asked.
“They’re great questions,” Manafort attorney Kevin Downing told TPM. He said they showed the jury was working through the “complicated” issues in the case. He also gave a satisfied shrug when noting that one of the questions pertained to the definition of reasonable doubt.
The first question was about the requirements to file FBAR reports. At the request of prosecutor Greg Andres, Judge Ellis re-read the jury instructions about the law regarding foreign bank account (FBAR) reports.
The second question asked for a definition of “shelf” companies, and their filing requirements. Ellis told the jury they will have to rely on their collective recollection from the testimony and evidence in the trial.
The third question asked the judge to give another definition of the term reasonable doubt. Ellis responded that reasonable doubt means “doubt based on reason,” and that the government is not required to prove guilt beyond “all possible doubt.”
The final question asked by the jury was whether the exhibit list in the case could be amended to reflect the indictment counts. Ellis said no, that jurors must rely on their memory of which exhibits were used during certain parts of testimony.
The questions suggest that the jury is moving slowly, working deliberately and paying attention to the nitty-gritty details of the case. The FBAR question in particular suggests that one of the points the defense stressed during the trial —that Manafort was not the owner or signatory of some of the accounts in question — stuck with jurors as they headed into the deliberations. Notably, the questions pertained to tax and the foreign bank account charges, and not the last set of charges, the bank fraud charges, where the evidence is perhaps most complicated.
Lawyers and reporters hurried to the courtroom in Alexandria as word emerged that the jury had sent out a message.
The jury is deliberating on the bank and tax fraud charges Manafort, President Trump’s former campaign manager, faces. Manafort has pleaded not guilty to all charges.