Jury begins second day of deliberations in Trump ex-aide Manafort’s…

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (Reuters) – A jury in Virginia began its second day of deliberations on Friday in the bank and tax fraud trial of President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

FILE PHOTO: Former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort arrives for arraignment on a third superseding indictment against him by Special Counsel Robert Mueller on charges of witness tampering, at U.S. District Court in Washington, U.S., June 15, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/File Photo

The six women and six men met for about seven hours on Thursday without reaching a verdict on the 18 charges against Manafort, whose trial is the first stemming from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s 15-month-old investigation of Russia’s role in the 2016 U.S. election.

The charges largely predate Manafort’s five months working on Trump’s campaign. Manafort, 69, faces five counts of filing false tax returns, four counts of failing to disclose his offshore bank accounts and nine counts of bank fraud. If convicted on all counts, he could spend the rest of his life in prison.

The jury, deliberating in a room at the federal courthouse in Alexandria, sent a note on Thursday afternoon asking U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis four questions including one about defining “reasonable doubt.” In a criminal case, a jury must find a defendant guilty “beyond a reasonable doubt.”

Defense attorneys Richard Westling, Kevin Downing and Thomas Zehnle arrive at the start of the second day of jury deliberations in the trial against Paul Manafort, U.S. President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman who is facing bank and tax fraud charges, at the Federal Courthouse in Alexandria, Virginia, U.S., August 17, 2018. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

The question suggested one or more jurors may be grappling with whether prosecutors met this standard of proof on certain counts.

“The fact that they are sending questions on reasonable doubt tells me that the group is divided,” jury consultant Alexandra Rudolph said. “There is at least one juror who has not decided the case and who is not convinced.”

While the general rule is that juries reach verdicts on Friday to avoid having to return after a weekend, Rudolph said she believed it was likely these deliberations will carry over into early next week.

The jurors also asked Ellis about when someone must disclose a foreign bank account to the Treasury Department, about the definition of a “shelf company” – an inactive company often sold to people aiming to bypass the registration process – and about the exhibit list.

Prosecutors accused Manafort of hiding from U.S. tax authorities $16 million in money he earned as a political consultant for pro-Russian politicians in Ukraine to fund an opulent lifestyle and then lying to banks to secure $20 million in loans after his Ukrainian income dried up and he needed cash.

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