Jury selection process begins in Manafort trial

Jury selection process begins in Manafort trial
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A pool of 70 potential jurors are under consideration for the fraud trial of former Trump campaign chairman Paul ManafortPaul John ManafortJustice Department preparing for Mueller report as soon as next week: reports Five things to know about Trump confidant Tom Barrack Trump has publicly criticized Russia probe more than 1,100 times: NY Times MORE.

The group on Tuesday filled out questionnaires aimed at assessing their potential biases in the case, according to multiple reports.

The questionnaires were designed to assess whether the jurors can be impartial about a case that mainstream media outlets have been reporting on for months, ABC reported.

Questionnaires did not ask who jurors voted for, but did attempt to assess if partisan predispositions could interfere in the potential jurors' ability to separate politics from the legal case.  

"We’re not going to inquire into how people voted," District Judge T.S. Ellis told lawyers at a legal conference on Monday, according to Bloomberg News. "People can be fair and impartial no matter who they voted for."

Jury selection for the Virginia trial begins next Wednesday. The questionnaires will help both sides decide which jurors to choose or challenge in what is expected to be a quick process.

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Ellis on Monday also barred prosecutors from mentioning President TrumpDonald John TrumpJustice Department preparing for Mueller report as soon as next week: reports Smollett lawyers declare 'Empire' star innocent Pelosi asks members to support resolution against emergency declaration MORE or Russia in the courtroom. He told the prosecution that they cannot mention "collusion" or "Russia" when they present evidence against Manafort, whose trial is scheduled for July 31.

Manafort is being accused of bank fraud, money laundering and failing to register as a foreign agent with the Justice Department. Though his trial is the the first resulting from Mueller's broad probe into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, all of the charges Manafort is facing in two trials taking place in Washington, D.C. and Alexandria, Va., occurred before he worked on Trump's campaign.

Manafort has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

"We don’t intend to mention alleged collusion with the Russians," Prosecutor Greg Andres said, according to NBC news. He said only "a very small portion of the trial" will mention collusion.  

Manafort's lawyers had last month asked Ellis to bar any mention of Manafort's ties to Trump during the trial.