Trump defends ex-aide Manafort as jury considers verdict

Jury in Paul Manafort trial poses questions about reasonable doubt

The case is the first to go to trial arising out of special counsel Robert Mueller's probe of Russia's role in the 2016 USA election, although the charges against Manafort largely predate his five months on Trump's campaign. He has pleaded not guilty to all the charges.

Before dismissing them on Friday, Judge T.S. Ellis reminded the jurors, who are not sequestered, to refrain from discussing the case or investigating it on their own over the weekend.

"The fact that they were quiet on Friday indicated that they were working hard and working well together, and there was no dissension", said Wu, who is no longer involved in the case and said he was speaking from knowledge of the publicly available evidence.

The trial carries major implications for the future of Mueller's investigation.

Trump has called Mueller's investigation, which had cast a cloud over his presidency, a "rigged witch hunt".

"Study the late Joseph McCarthy, because we are now in period with Mueller and his gang that make Joseph McCarthy look like a baby!"

Trump's tweet was in reference to a New York Times report that White House Counsel Don McGahn had cooperated extensively with Mueller.

"I think the whole Manafort trial is very sad".

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In a break with convention, Trump weighed in on the trial on Friday, calling the case against Manafort at the federal court in Alexandria, Virginia, "very sad" and lauding his former associate as a "very good person".

Manafort, 69, a veteran political consultant, made his fortune helping to bring pro-Russian politician Viktor Yanukovych to power in Ukraine in 2010.

Another headline from Friday that could grab the attention of jurors concerned Ellis' disclosure that he had received threats related to the trial and was being protected by USA marshals.

Speaking at a hearing outside of jurors' presence, Ellis also said he has no plan to release the names and home addresses of those 12 people now deliberating Manafort's fate because he is anxious about their "peace and safety".

"I've received criticism and threats". "I imagine they would, too".

"When you follow the trail of Mr. Manafort's money, it is littered with lies", prosecutor Greg Andres said in his final argument Wednesday, asking the jury to convict Manafort of 18 felony counts. "This is a case about lies".

Federal prosecutors allege Manafort hid tens of millions of dollars in foreign income. Manafort is also accused of lying to banks in requests for loans, which prosecutors claim he obtained to continue funding his lavish lifestyle after income from the Ukrainian party dried up.

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