As the jury continues to deliberate in the case against former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, a number in the media appear to have already convicted him — in full view of members of that jury.
In spite of the judge’s revelation that there have been threats throughout the course of the proceedings against Manafort, the jury has not been sequestered — and as such, although they are not supposed to allow media coverage to influence their deliberations, they have not been prevented from seeing it.
MSNBC’s Ken Dilanian suggested on Monday, as he waited outside the courtroom for the jury’s verdict, that Manafort’s team could only hope for a mistrial. “A full acquittal in this case would still be an unexpected and perhaps shocking development,” he said during a segment of “MSNBC Live.” “The evidence against Paul Manafort is overwhelming.”
Joe Scarborough made similar comments Monday on “Morning Joe,” calling the judge’s behavior into question as well.
“Let’s start with the question that I’m going to draw upon all my years of legal training and all my years of legal practice and ask you an in-depth question regarding jurisprudence, what the hell is going on in the Manafort trial? I mean, you have the jurors are not sequestered on one of the most important trials where witness tampering it would seem would be an utmost concern to any judge, Russians running around.
You have, of course, the judge making just crazed attacks at the prosecution on and off, and apologizes, and then continues poking them, accuses one prosecutor who stared down mob families and had his life threatened by mobs, mobsters, of crying in court. This is a bizarre trial. And I must say, there is so much evidence, just in the documents, against Paul Manafort and the jury is still out. What’s going on here?”
Others have tweeted their assessment of Manafort’s guilt.
.@realDonaldTrump-Wow you are seriously freaking out. Probably due to the fact your failed presidency is coming to an end, your best friend Paul Manafort is about to be found guilty, Cohen’s gonna flip and you’ve accomplished absolutely nothing. Worst. Fake. President. Ever.
— Scott Dworkin (@funder) August 20, 2018
If Manafort is convicted and Trump pardons him (then you’ll know Trump is guilty)… all hell’s gonna break loose.
If Manafort is convicted and Trump doesn’t pardon him… Manafort will flip on Trump… and all hell’s gonna break loose.
Will Manafort go to prison for Trump… NFW!! pic.twitter.com/wJPT9xpS9D
— Billy Baldwin (@BillyBaldwin) August 20, 2018
If Manafort is found not guilty we’ve all been clearly living our lives wrong
— Sarah Cooper (@sarahcpr) August 16, 2018
— Free Speech TV (@freespeechtv) August 17, 2018
So I generally choose not to hang on every twist of the Mueller investigation, but if Trump pardons Manafort (after maybe having promised a pardon to get him not to cooperate) and gets away with it, then we’re in a banana republic. We just are.
— Chris Murphy (@ChrisMurphyCT) August 17, 2018
But the real problem, as many have noted, is not that media analysts have an opinion regarding Manafort’s guilt or innocence — or that they broadcast it at every opportunity — but that the jury has not been sequestered in order to avoid any improper influence their comments might have.
And that problem extends to the other side, as well — President Donald Trump’s recent comments about Manafort’s trial could be seen as presenting an unfair influence as well.
A non-sequestered jury can hear The President make statements on whether Manafort is guilty or innocent. What country do we live in now?
— Al Bernstein (@AlBernstein) August 18, 2018
By calling Manafort’s trial unfair and Paul a good man, Trump is tampering with the unsequestered jury, obstructing justice vis-a-vis Manafort, and hinting to Manafort that he’s in for a pardon unless he now starts cooperating with Mueller, thereby obstructing the Russia probe.
— Laurence Tribe (@tribelaw) August 18, 2018
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