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Tag: court

How Unrelated, Decades-Old Cold Case May Prevent Mueller from Disclosing Russia-Trump Report

Special counsel Robert Mueller. Photo via FBI.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

The unsolved disappearance and apparent murder of a Columbia University professor more than 60 years ago may prevent special counsel Robert Mueller from disclosing revealing information about the Trump campaign and Russia.

The cold case has nothing to do with Mueller’s investigation into potential ties between President Trump’s campaign and Russia, but the six-decade-old mystery has given rise to a legal question that is entirely relevant to the special counsel probe, Politico reports

At issue is whether judges have the right to release grand jury information that typically is kept secret. An appeals court is expected next month to deliver a decision on whether grand jury information can be disclosed in the case of the Columbia University professor Jesus Galindez.

Author and attorney Stuart McKeever, who has been closely following the cold case, is suing the Justice Department for the release of grand jury testimony involving the 1956 disappearance.

If the court sides with the Justice Department’s argument that grand jury information must be kept secret, it could set a precedent that would prevent Mueller from releasing a report on his findings to Congress or the public.

“If the D.C. Circuit were to accept the Department of Justice’s arguments…that would have potentially enormous implications for the future of the information from the Mueller investigation. That could close out a path by which that information becomes public,”  Harvard Law professor Alex Whiting said.

Jury Convicts Manafort on 8 of 18 Counts

Paul Manafort

Update: 6:04 p.m. Tuesday —  A federal jury in Alexandria, Va., found President Trump’s campaign manager guilty of eight tax and bank fraud charges. The jury was deadlocked on the other 10, the Washington Post reports. 

________________________

Reported from Earlier Today

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

The jury in the trial of Paul Manafort, the former Trump campaign chairman accused of bank and tax fraud, alerted a judge that it is split on at least one count and wanted instructions on how to proceed.

The news came late Tuesday morning on the fourth day of deliberations in a case that could send Manafort to prison for the rest of his life if he’s found guilty.

“Your honor, if we cannot come to a consensus on a single count, how should we fill in the jury verdict form for that count, and what does that mean for the final verdict?” the note asked U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III, the Washington Post reports

The jury is tasked with reaching a verdict on 18 counts filed by special counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating whether Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia to meddle in the presidential election.

Manafort is accused of hiding millions of dollars in foreign bank accounts to avoid paying taxes on profits he made while working as a consultant for a Ukrainian political party with ties to the Kremlin. He also was charged with lying about his income to obtain loans to support what prosecutors described as an extravagant, excessive lifestyle that included six homes and an assortment of very expensive clothes.

Border Patrol Agent Sentenced to Probation for Possessing Illegal Firearm, Heroin

Photo via Border Patrol

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

A Border Patrol agent arrested last year for possessing an illegal firearm and heroin was sentenced to three years’ probation and time served.

Brandon James Herrera was arrested in April 2016 after police in Oceanside, Calif., found a short-barrel rifle and about five grams of heroin in the agent’s trunk, NBC7 reports

Police pulled over Herrera after they said his truck matched the description of a vehicle driven by a suspicious person.

Herrera pleaded guilty to unlawful possession of an assault weapon on July 23.

Jury Begins Fourth Day of Deliberations in Manafort Trial. Is That Unusual?

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

The jury in the Paul Manafort fraud trial began its fourth day of deliberations Tuesday morning after failing to reach a verdict Monday evening.

The jury deliberated until 6:15 p.m. Monday, which is the latest it had gone home for the day.

Manafort’s attorneys suggested the jury’s failure to reach a verdict after three days of deliberations is good news.

But experts largely disagreed, saying it’s not unusual for a jury to take days – even more than a week — to reach a verdict in a case as complex as the one against Manafort, who is charged with 18 counts, ranging from tax fraud to tax fraud.

Defense attorneys’ suggestion that “the length of the deliberations is a good sign for them is pure spin,” Michael Bromwich, a former Justice Department inspector general, told Vox. “Indeed, quick verdicts in complex cases are frequently for the defendant.”

Check back with Ticklethewire.com for updates on the deliberations.

Why the Manafort Jury Likely Hasn’t Reached a Verdict Yet

Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

If you’ve been eagerly awaiting the verdict in the Paul Manafort trial, it may feel like the jury has taken a long time.

But according to experts, juries typically take days – even more than a week – to reach a verdict on cases as complex as this one.

In the Manafort case, the jury began its third day of deliberations Monday. Manafort is charged with 18 counts, including bank fraud, conspiracy, filing false income tax returns and failure to report foreign or financial assets.

The news site Vox interviewed eight lawyers about the deliberations, and each said there’s nothing unusual about the jury take several days to reach a verdict.

“Probably means nothing,” Shira Scheindlin, a former United States district judge in the Southern District of New York, told Vox. “Most juries are very meticulous. Bank fraud and tax fraud are complex statutes and involve unfamiliar concepts. They are not in the everyday experience of jurors.”

Defense attorneys’ suggestion that “the length of the deliberations  is a good sign for them is pure spin,” said Michael Bromwich, former Justice Department inspector general. “Indeed, quick verdicts in complex cases are frequently for the defendant.”

Harry Litman, former U.S. attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania, said juries taking their jobs seriously and thus are methodical.

“The most likely thing it means is that they’re going through the charges, which are paper-driven and require confirmation methodically,” Litman said. “We know that’s happening, based on their questioning, and it’s the kind of the case that doing that would take three, four, five days anyway.”

Jury Reconvenes Today After Asking Judge to Clarify Meaning of ‘Reasonable Doubt’

Ex-Trump campaign leader Paul Manafort.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

A jury will reconvene Friday morning after failing to reach a verdict during its full day of  deliberations in the fraud trial of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

Just before the jury said it wanted to go home at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, the panel asked Judge T.S. Ellis to clarify the meaning of “reasonable doubt,” the threshold for acquittal. The judge clarified that the prosecution must prove their case beyond “doubt based on reason,” not “beyond a reasonable doubt.”

The jury also asked three other questions, including the legal requirements to disclose foreign bank accounts and the definition of “shelf” companies.

Ellis provided no insight, except to say the jury should rely on their “collective recollection.”

The jury will reconvene at 9:30 a.m. Friday to determine whether Manafort is guilty of 18 counts of tax and bank fraud, which prosecutors said the Republican consultant committed to indulge in an excessive lifestyle that included more than $6 million on seven homes, $820,000 ons manicure the lawns, a $21,000 black titanium and crystal watch, a $15,000 ostrich jacket and an $18,000 python jacket. 

If convicted, Mueller could spend the rest of his life behind bars.

The jury’s decision in the first trial brought forward by special counsel Robert Mueller carries a lot of weight for special counsel Robert Mueller and President Trump, who has long complained that the investigation is a “witch hunt” designed to force him out of office.

Whatever the case, Manafort faces a second trial in several months on money laundering charges, and prosecutors are expected to have even more evidence in that case.

Jury Begins Deciding Fate of Former Trump Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort

Paul Manafort

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Just two years ago, Paul Manafort was lavishly dressed, owned six luxury homes and was leading the improbable presidential campaign for Donald Trump.

Today, the 69-year-old’s life is reduced to a jail cell, prison garb and anxiety about whether he’ll spend the rest of his life behind bars.

His fate is in the hands of a jury today as they determine whether one of the GOP’s most successful, if shady, operatives is guilty of bank and tax fraud in order to sustain an extravagant, excessive lifestyle.

In closing arguments Wednesday, prosecutors argued they presented plenty of evidence that Manafort concealed millions of dollars in foreign banks accounts to dodge tax penalties from money he made working for a Ukrainian political party and that he lied about his income to receive tens of millions of dollars in loans that he otherwise wasn’t eligible for.

His defense team blamed the people who testified against him and admitted they violated the law. That includes his longtime business partner and former Trump campaign aide Rick Gates, who testified against Manafort as part of a plea deal with prosecutors.

The jury’s decision in the first trial brought forward by special counsel Robert Mueller carries a lot of wieght for special counsel Robert Mueller and President Trump, who has long complained that the investigation is a “witch hunt” designed to force him out of office.

Whatever the case, Manafort faces a second trial in several months on money laundering charges.

Check back for updates.

Jury to Deliberate on Fate of Manafort After Closing Arguments Today in 10-Day Trial

Paul Manafort

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

President Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort’s lawyers rested their case in the two-week fraud trial, presenting no evidence and calling no witnesses Tuesday.

Today, both sides will deliver closing arguments that summarize the 10 days of testimony in the first trial stemming from special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russia.

This jacket was among many pieces of clothing used to show Manafort’s lavish lifestyle.

Then, the fate of the 69-year-old Republican operative will land in the hands of a jury, who will determine whether Manafort is guilty of bank and tax fraud. A conviction could send him to prison for the rest of his life.

During closing arguments, prosecutors will try to convince the jury that Manafort hid millions of dollars he made lobbying for a pro-Russian Ukrainian party in foreign bank accounts to avoid paying taxes. They’ll also point to evidence that he received millions of dollars in loans by hiding his true income after he lost his consulting job.

The prosecution said Manafort was motivated by financing an extravagant lifestyle that included lavish clothes and six homes.

His defense team likely will place blame on people who testified against Manafort and admitted wrongdoing, including his former business partner Rick Gates.

No matter what verdict the jury hands down, Manafort’s troubles are far from over. He faces a second criminal trial in a case that alleges lobbying crimes and money laundering.

Manafort has refused to reach a plea agreement with prosecutors in exchange for more information that could reveal more about Trump and his campaign’s role in working with Russia to undermine the 2016 presidential election.

A lot is at stake for Mueller, who continues to be attacked by Trump as heading a politically connected “witch hunt.” The lack of a conviction during Mueller’s first trial would surely be used by Trump to continue to undermine the special counsel, the FBI and Justice Department.

But a conviction would give the president less ammunition to continue undermining the credibility of the investigation, which began in May 2017 after he fired then-FBI Director James Comey.