Caitlin MacNeal

Caitlin MacNeal is a News Writer based in Washington, D.C. Before joining TPM, Caitlin interned and wrote for the Huffington Post, the Sunlight Foundation and Slate. She is a graduate of Georgetown University.

Articles by Caitlin

A couple weeks from the start of Paul Manafort’s Washington, D.C. trial, the judge presiding over the case, Judge Amy Berman Jackson, made clear in a pre-trial hearing on Wednesday that neither the prosecution nor the defense will be able to mention illicit affairs or attempt to broadly characterize whether Manafort’s work in Ukraine was good or bad.

Jackson also said she would allow lawyers to use the term oligarch, a word the judge in Virginia banned in that trial, but ordered the lawyers to agree on a definition of the term if they do decide to use the word.

In ordering the lawyers to avoid any mentions of affairs, Jackson targeted the defense team’s attempts to hurt the credibility of the government’s star witness in the Virginia case, former Manafort deputy Rick Gates. In that trial, when the defense asked Gates about his “secret life,” he brought up an affair, prompting the defense to later ask him if he had several affairs.

“I do not think this evidence is relevant to his credibility,” Jackson said, telling lawyers on both sides not to ask about “affairs or infidelity” and to caution witnesses that they should not bring this up on their own.

Downing argued that he only asked about Gates’ affairs at the Virginia trial because he “started lying about it.”

Jackson told Downing that his questions about Gates’ credibility should stick to any alleged financial misdeeds, not his personal life, and that if the defense believes Gates tells a lie, to approach the bench to discuss how to move forward.

Downing also noted that he only asked about Gates’ “secret life” in the Virginia trial to show that Gates was living beyond his means. To this argument, Jackson said that both sides should not “belabor” the expensive items anyone was purchasing.

“I think we can turn down the volume on that,” she said.

On the issue of characterizing the work Manafort carried out in Ukraine, Jackson told the lawyers on both sides to keep from making broad characterizations, referencing the defense’s argument in the Virginia trial that Manafort’s work in Ukraine promoted Western democracy. She said there will be no discussion of “which is the good guy and which is the bad guy” when it comes to Ukrainian political parties or politicians.

Jackson also ruled Tuesday on which arguments and evidence will be permitted to be used at trial.

She said she would approve a motion from the defense to exclude any mention that the special counsel investigation into potential Trump campaign collusion is still ongoing and said she would only allow prosecutors to mention Manafort’s role in the Trump campaign when discussing statements he made about his work in Ukraine while he was still working for Trump.

Jackson also granted motions from Manafort’s attorneys to bar any mention of the Virginia trial or the fact that Manafort is currently in custody.

The government filed a motion to bar the defense team from arguing that the special counsel selectively prosecuted Manafort due to his ties to Trump. Jackson said she is “inclined to grant this motion” but said she would issue a “clear” ruling on the matter later.

Jackson said she would wait to issue rulings on several additional motions, including a defense motion to bar any testimony or evidence from lawyers who advised Manafort on whether he had to register as a foreign lobbyist. She will also issue orders later on the defense’s motion to exclude any mention that the IRS did not audit Manafort or that the government did not bring any kind of civil action against Manafort for failing to register as a foreign lobbyist, as well as a government motion to include evidence that Manafort’s companies did not report their foreign bank accounts.

She said she would be denying Manafrot’s motion for a change of venue to Roanoke, Virginia.

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Samuel Patten, the Republican operative who pleaded guilty on Friday to failing to register as a foreign lobbyist, was not charged with the offense by special counsel Robert Mueller’s office, yet his case is tied to the broader web covered by Mueller’s expansive investigation.

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The Wall Street Journal first reported this morning that Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg was granted immunity in the federal investigation into Michael Cohen. With news about President Trump’s allies and their roles in arranging hush money payments during the 2016 election dropping daily, it’s becoming hard to keep track of who was involved in which schemes and how. So here’s a quick guide to one of Trump’s key allies for those playing catch-up.

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As the jury enters day four of deliberations in Paul Manafort’s Virginia trial, the realization that we have no idea how long the jury will take to reach a verdict is sinking in.

We’ve been prepared each day for the verdict to drop at any moment, with a TPM reporter in the Alexandria courthouse at all times, armed with a checklist of the 18 counts Manafort faces in the case. The jury could reach a conclusion any moment now, or their deliberations could stretch on for days, weeks, or even months. This is a complicated case with dozens of financial documents and intertwining testimony from nearly 30 witnesses.

The jurors last week sent the judge questions that suggest they are moving through the counts and documents methodically. They asked about the rules governing FARA filings, suggesting that they were putting significant thought into whether Manafort was required to report foreign bank accounts to the Treasury Department. They also asked if they could obtain a list matching the evidence documents to the counts Manafort faces, suggesting that they were looking to scrutinize the exhibits as they deliberate.

Four days of debate is within a normal time range for deliberation, especially if you consider the number of documents special counsel Robert Mueller’s team used to make their case.

The jury raised our hopes that an end could be in sight slightly yesterday when it notified the judge that it would deliberate about an hour past the time jury members typically head home. But there’s no real conclusion we can draw from their extended deliberation on Monday.

As we toiled away on crossword puzzles in the courtroom yesterday, separated from our phones and computers, we were reminded of cases that have stretched on for what seems like an eternity. The jury in the Blackwater trial deliberated for about a month. And on the extreme end, the longest trial in U.S. history took two and a half years.

Here’s hoping that this trial doesn’t gives those a run for their money.

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Kevin Downing, the lead attorney for Paul Manafort, is pacing around the lobby of this hotel in Alexandria, Virginia, across the street from the courthouse, and staring anxiously out the window. Another defense lawyer, Richard Westling, is currently sitting across the lobby charging his phone.

There’s a lot of us here.

After the rush of covering Paul Manafort’s lengthy trial in Virginia, dashing in and out of the courtroom with news from the witness stand, we’re now left waiting as the jury deliberates, with little sense of how long they’ll take.

Those reporters who are not waiting inside the chilly courtroom for a note from the jury or a verdict are either waiting outside with their camera crews or here, across the street, in a hotel lobby with the lawyers for the defense. Manafort’s legal team is gathered in the hotel restaurant near a window that looks out at the courtroom.

Also spotted in the hotel this afternoon is Manafort’s wife, her friend who accompanied her each day of the trial, and Manafort’s spokesman.

We’re all clueless about the timing of the verdict and preparing for the mad dash across the street whenever the jury sends up the signal.

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The proceedings in Paul Manafort’s Virginia trial will begin for the week at 1 p.m. this afternoon, and the lawyers for both sides are expected to give closing arguments in the case by the end of the week.

Due to a delay on Friday morning, the prosecution still has at least one witness to question this afternoon, and may briefly ask another witness about Manafort’s alleged failure to report his foreign bank accounts.

Given that, the prosecution should rest its case by mid-afternoon today, leaving open the possibility that the defense begins calling witnesses today.

We expect Manafort’s team to call only a few witnesses, compared to the prosecution’s 27 witnesses. There’s a possibility that the defense could rest its case by the end of the day Tuesday, but it might spill into Wednesday.

After the defense finishes calling its witnesses, lawyers for both sides must discuss with the judge any instructions they have for the jury. We have little insight into exactly how long this will take. If we’ve learned anything about Judge T.S. Ellis, its that he is impatient and will try to move things along. However, there’s also the possibility that this part of the trial could drag out if the prosecution and defense quibble over jury instructions. We expect this to take about half a day. Optimistically, this would be done by late Tuesday, but it could very well take place Wednesday morning.

Depending on how long the defense and jury instruction takes, closing arguments will take place either Wednesday or Thursday. Ellis told the lawyers last week that they would have two hours to deliver their closing arguments. Ellis also said he is hesitant to break up closing arguments over two days, increasing the chance that the trial won’t end until Thursday.

After closing arguments, the jury will have to deliberate. It’s unclear just how long this would take, so we could get a verdict as early as Friday, but the jury could also deliberate over the course of a few days.

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