‘I did not want Manafort to be guilty – but he was’, says Trump-supporting juror

A juror in the trial of Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman has revealed a lone holdout prevented the jury from convicting Paul Manafort on all 18 charges.

Manafort was convicted on eight charges of financial crimes, but the judge declared a mistrial on the remaining 10 charges after the jury failed to reach a unanimous verdict.

Jurors repeatedly tried to persuade the holdout to "look at the paper trail" but she insisted there was reasonable doubt, juror Paula Duncan told Fox News.

"We didn’t want it to be hung, so we tried for an extended period of time to convince her," Ms Duncan said. 

"But in the end, she held out and that’s why we have 10 counts that did not get a verdict."

She revealed that the discussions became so heated during the four days of deliberations that there were "tears" at times among the 12 men and women.

The Manafort trial was the first to stem from special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian election meddling and possible collusion with the Trump campaign.

Ms Duncan, who says she is an ardent Trump supporter, referred to the probe as a "witch hunt" – a frequent refrain from the president.

However, she said the charges brought by Mr Mueller’s team were legitimate and considered the evidence "overwhelming".

“Every day when I drove [to court], I had my Make America Great Again hat in the backseat,” said Ms Duncan, who said she plans to vote for Mr Trump again in 2020. “Just as a reminder.”

"I did not want Paul Manafort to be guilty, but he was," Ms Duncan said. "And no one is above the law."

Ms Duncan said the Trump administration did come up during deliberations because of testimony that Manafort had tried to secure a White House position for a banker who authorised millions of dollars in loans for him and had lobbied Mr Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner.

"The charges were legitimate but the prosecution tried to make the case about the Russian collusion right from the beginning and, of course, the judge shut them down on that," she said. 

Ms Duncan also said she would have liked to have heard more from Manafort’s defence team. The political consultant did not testify at his trial and his lawyers conducted mostly limited questioning of the government’s witnesses.

The juror’s comments came the same day that the Judge TS Ellis, who presided over the trial, unsealed several transcripts of closed bench conferences. 

Read more | Trump's legal woes

One transcript showed that the defence had privately sought a mistrial because of comments a juror was quoted as making about the weakness of Mr Manafort’s defense.

Mr Ellis denied Manafort’s motion, saying he was confident a mistrial was not warranted after considering the circumstances carefully and questioning each juror about their ability to be impartial.

After the jury’s verdict, Manafort’s lawyer Kevin Downing took care to praise Mr Ellis for a fair trial and the jury "for their very long and hard-fought deliberations". 

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