Paul Manafort jury pool was full of political opinions

The 12 jurors who found Paul Manafort guilty of eight crimes had little knowledge of the case before the tri...

Posted: Aug 31, 2018 11:26 AM
Updated: Aug 31, 2018 11:26 AM

The 12 jurors who found Paul Manafort guilty of eight crimes had little knowledge of the case before the trial began. But several of the people called for jury duty for Manafort's trial in Virginia last month did have opinions about the case before they reported to court, according to a newly unsealed transcript from when the lawyers and judge first determined the jury.

The transcript made public Wednesday offers a new window into how potential jurors felt about special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation and Manafort, President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman.

Continents and regions

Court trials

Donald Trump

Eastern Europe

Europe

Government and public administration

Investigations

Jury duty

Law and legal system

North America

Paul Manafort

Political Figures - US

Politics

Russia

Russia meddling investigation

Southeastern United States

The Americas

Trial and procedure

United States

Virginia

The jury pool of about 65 people pulled from the densely populated DC metro area in Virginia and from the more rural counties around Arlington and Alexandria, Virginia. As might be expected, many in the pool had connections to the federal government or politics.

One potential juror was a writer for the right-wing website WorldNetDaily. Another was married to a staffer for a Republican congressman from Ohio. Both were not chosen. (Each juror in the transcript is referred to by number, not by name.)

Manafort heads to his second criminal trial in under a month. The judge on that case said she expects the jury selection to take longer and be more difficult than the Virginia proceeding, because of the amount of media attention the case received less than a month earlier and Washington residents' propensity to follow the news and politics.

The jury that was selected for the Virginia trial had an accountant, teachers and government contractors, and a US Supreme Court employee. The only juror who has spoken publicly said after the trial that she was a Trump supporter. Still, the jury unanimously found Manafort guilty on eight criminal charges, and one juror -- not the one who's spoken publicly -- refused to agree he was guilty on 10 others, causing them to hang on those counts.

Few of the jurors who sat through Manafort's 14-day trial were directly questioned in court after they filled out forms disclosing their familiarity with the case.

One juror, a 51-year-old government contractor, according to the court's records, told the judge that before he came to the courtroom on the first trial day, "Only the name sounded familiar when I heard it."

That the other 11 jurors weren't asked in court about what they'd read of the case indicates that their responses on a preliminary questionnaire didn't raise the prosecutor and defense lawyers' suspicions. Ideally, jurors know little about the case they must weigh, or if they do know about it, must say they could hear it with impartiality.

As for the jurors who didn't get picked for Manafort's case, several had political biases and had followed Manafort's legal troubles closely. A few leaned to the right, while several said they thought Manafort was likely guilty.

Without fail, each juror told the judge they could weigh the case without bias. The judge and lawyers didn't always believe each person.

"There's a possibility that he might have done what he's being accused of doing," one female potential juror said. "I'm somewhat jaded because of the manner in which this has come forward ... as part of Mr. Mueller's investigation.

"But I mean, innocent until proven guilty, that's what I say."

She went on, speaking about the special counsel's office and Manafort's lawyers, according to the court transcript.

"I feel that the Mueller investigation is dragging on and dragging on," she said. "And I feel at some point that maybe -- I hate to use this term, but for lack of a better term, when they say 'witch hunt.' ... I'm not sure I like the way in which this situation has come forth."

The woman was not selected for the jury.

Another potential juror came to court with a potentially similar bent, after reading "an exposé on Mr. Manafort" in the conservative magazine National Review last year, he told the court.

The judge, however, didn't toss the potential juror immediately.

"I looked him straight in the eye and he said he could put it to one side," Judge T.S. Ellis told the lawyers in discussing the man's comment. "If we begin getting rid of people because of certain magazines they read, we have reached a dangerous situation. Then we could only seat people who didn't read."

Another potential juror expressed a negative opinion about Manafort.

"Mr. Manafort seems kind of slimy," the man told the judge. "But I know what it's like to have stories told about you. I have an opinion, but it's more important to let the person being talked about tell their story."

One person, who was not chosen, was eager to serve. "I would love to serve on this case," the potential juror said. Ellis almost immediately reacted when the juror walked away from the lawyers' discussion. "I, frankly, was a little put off by her desire to serve on this jury," he said.

"You're not alone, judge," Manafort's defense lawyer Richard Westling replied.

One juror told the lawyers she had read about the case on Facebook. "I don't even remember what it was about, actually," she said. A second person said he had heard Manafort's name on the radio.

Several other jurors in the pool had direct connections to the FBI and CIA. Another was an IT manager at the CIA whose father and mother worked for the FBI.

One man said he worked for an FBI contractor that tracked computer hacking. He became an alternate juror who was excused from court after the defense rested its case and jury deliberations began.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 28770

Reported Deaths: 1092
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds224739
DeSoto144216
Madison124234
Jones109149
Neshoba97070
Lauderdale89479
Rankin86012
Forrest82942
Harrison79410
Scott75715
Copiah58016
Leake56519
Jackson55716
Holmes53641
Wayne52212
Lee51816
Oktibbeha51625
Washington5129
Yazoo4786
Leflore47449
Warren46317
Lowndes45912
Lincoln43734
Lamar4317
Grenada3965
Pike39312
Monroe37529
Lafayette3684
Attala35523
Newton3329
Sunflower3216
Covington3175
Bolivar29813
Panola2956
Adams28018
Simpson2713
Chickasaw26418
Tate2648
Marion26311
Pontotoc2616
Jasper2516
Noxubee2478
Pearl River24532
Clay24410
Winston2446
Claiborne23910
Marshall2123
Smith21111
Clarke20424
Coahoma1906
Union1819
Walthall1794
Kemper17614
Yalobusha1667
Lawrence1621
Carroll16111
Humphreys1309
Itawamba1308
Tippah12711
Webster12610
Calhoun1244
Montgomery1242
Hancock12313
Tallahatchie1153
Jefferson Davis1074
Prentiss1003
Greene968
Jefferson963
Wilkinson929
Tunica903
Amite842
George753
Tishomingo731
Choctaw724
Quitman690
Perry634
Alcorn601
Stone541
Franklin392
Benton270
Sharkey270
Issaquena81
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 41362

Reported Deaths: 983
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson4532143
Montgomery3875102
Mobile3797134
Tuscaloosa210739
Marshall162210
Lee124537
Shelby110923
Madison11047
Morgan10203
Walker87123
Franklin86314
Dallas8419
Elmore83614
Baldwin7359
Etowah64413
DeKalb6415
Butler60727
Chambers60027
Tallapoosa57269
Autauga55312
Unassigned50724
Russell5030
Lowndes45820
Lauderdale4576
Houston4464
Limestone4290
Cullman4114
Pike4075
Colbert3775
Bullock3649
Coffee3592
Barbour3331
Covington3327
St. Clair3192
Marengo29911
Hale29621
Escambia2936
Wilcox2848
Talladega2827
Calhoun2805
Sumter27912
Clarke2686
Dale2620
Jackson2522
Winston2373
Blount2181
Pickens2176
Chilton2152
Marion20613
Monroe2052
Choctaw19212
Randolph1889
Conecuh1866
Greene1788
Macon1778
Bibb1761
Perry1541
Henry1303
Crenshaw1243
Washington1027
Lawrence1000
Cherokee797
Lamar711
Geneva700
Fayette671
Clay612
Coosa571
Cleburne301
Out of AL00
Tupelo
Few Clouds
93° wxIcon
Hi: 92° Lo: 73°
Feels Like: 101°
Columbus
Few Clouds
91° wxIcon
Hi: 93° Lo: 72°
Feels Like: 100°
Oxford
Clear
91° wxIcon
Hi: 91° Lo: 71°
Feels Like: 98°
Starkville
Overcast
88° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 69°
Feels Like: 93°
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather