Manafort jury begins second day of deliberations

Manafort jury begins second day of deliberations
© Greg Nash

The second day of jury deliberations began Friday morning in the tax and bank fraud trial against former Trump campaign chairman Paul ManafortPaul John ManafortDem warns Trump: 'Obstruction of justice' to fire Rosenstein Ex-White House official revises statement to Mueller after Flynn guilty plea: report Former White House lawyer sought to pay Manafort, Gates legal fees: report MORE.

The jury had recessed after more than seven hours of deliberations on Thursday, asking the court a series of questions, including for a definition of “reasonable doubt.”

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Judge T.S. Ellis III retired the 12-member jury to deliberate at 9:40 a.m. Friday before moving on to discuss another matter. He said he had received a request from a group of media outlets to obtain access to documents and sidebar discussions that were placed under seal.  

CNN, Politico, The Associated Press, BuzzFeed News, NBC News, The New York Times and The Washington Post are seeking access to the names and addresses of the jurors and alternates, in addition to certain sealed records and sealed portions of transcripts of sidebar conversations.

The outlets said in a brief that the court had stated the subject matter of the sidebar discussions related to some aspects of the special counsel’s Russia investigation that are not public knowledge.

Under circuit court precedent, they argued not every release of information contained in an ongoing criminal investigation file will necessarily affect the integrity of the investigation.

“To the extent these sidebar discussions involved information that the media coalition members or others already have reported to the public, sealing of the transcripts would not be justified,” they wrote.

Ellis said Friday he made it clear when he issued his judgment that the matters would not be sealed permanently. When the case is over, he said, he would make them public.

“I’m no stranger to criticism,” he said. “This case has brought it to a new level, but everything I have done will be available for scrutiny.”

But Ellis said there may still be some names and medical things that won’t be revealed. He noted that neither the prosecution nor the defense objected to the temporary seals.

Regardless, Ellis said he will hold a hearing on the media’s request later Friday afternoon.

“I don’t question, resent or oppose the thirst of the press to get this information,” he said.

Ellis said he’s optimistic the case will end soon.

Manafort faces 18 charges of bank and tax fraud, charges that came from special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE's investigation, but do not relate directly to Russia's election interference. 

Manafort's is the first criminal trial to come from Mueller's probe.

At the White House on Tuesday morning, President TrumpDonald John TrumpSunday shows preview: Trump sells U.N. reorganizing and Kavanaugh allegations dominate Ex-Trump staffer out at CNN amid “false and defamatory accusations” Democrats opposed to Pelosi lack challenger to topple her MORE offered praise for his former campaign chief.

“He happens to be a very good person, and it happens to be very sad what they’ve done to Paul Manafort,” Trump told reporters.

Updated at 11:16 a.m. Jordan Fabian contributed.