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Manafort juror said one holdout 'exasperated' others with her logic

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Manafort juror said one holdout 'exasperated' others with her logic
President Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort stands before Judge T.S. Ellis as he was found guilty of eight of the 18 charges he faced in a case of bank and tax fraud at U.S. District Courthouse in Alexandria, Virginia. REUTERS/Bill Hennessy   -   Copyright  Handout .(Reuters)
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By Nathan Layne

(Reuters) – The one juror who prevented a conviction of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort on all 18 criminal charges did not trust any of the witnesses and exasperated other members with her reasoning, a juror in the trial told Reuters.

The comments from Paula Duncan, the only juror so far to speak out after Tuesday’s verdict in Alexandria Virginia, offered fresh insight into how the jury of six men and six women reached a consensus on 8 charges while deadlocking on the other 10 counts. The judge declared a mistrial on the 10 counts.

Duncan, 54, a Trump supporter, told Reuters in a phone interview that she believed Manafort had been “targeted” and “harassed” by Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team but that politics did not influence how she considered the evidence. She also said politics did not play a role with other jurors.

Duncan said the other jurors were frustrated with the holdout, who prevented them from reaching a consensus to convict on seven of nine counts of bank fraud and three of four counts of failing to declare foreign bank accounts.

“She was just saying I want to review my notes,” Duncan said. “When we asked her to explain her side she really couldn’t give us a good reason. She just said she had reasonable doubt.”

Manafort was found guilty on all five tax fraud charges related to his tax returns from 2010 to 2014, which contain a box to check on the existence of foreign bank accounts.

In addition to that check on the tax return, U.S. citizens with more than $10,000 (£7,803) in overseas accounts during a given year are required to submit a form called a foreign bank account report, or FBAR, detailing those accounts to the U.S. Treasury.

Duncan said there was no reason to have convicted Manafort on one FBAR count and not the other three. She said the holdout appeared to be willing to convict only for 2012 because there was a piece of evidence with Manafort’s name on it.

“We didn’t understand her logic and to us if he was guilty on the tax documents he was pretty much guilty on the FBARs,” Duncan said. “It made sense to everyone but her.”

The verdict was the first courtroom victory from Mueller’s investigation of Russia’s role in the 2016 U.S. election.

Duncan said the documentary evidence was more than strong enough to overcome the testimony of Rick Gates, Manafort’s former right-hand man and the prosecution’s star witness, whose credibility withered under cross-examination.

“The evidence and the paper trail was there regardless of what Rick Gates said,” Duncan said.

Duncan, who graduated with a degree in environmental science and journalism from the University of Missouri in 1989, said she was planning to write a book about her experience.

“I will probably touch on the counts but maybe focus more on being chosen to be a juror and the environment we are in right now,” she said.

(Reporting by Nathan Layne in Wilton, Connecticut; Editing by Bill Trott)

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