When the jury sent four questions to the judge after a day of deliberations, the defense team of Paul Manafort was buoyant. It was viewed as a sign of skepticism over the case. At the time, I took a different view and suggested that such questions can often reflect a single hold out juror and a desire to enlist the court to clarify standards. After all, Manafort did not appear to be following an acquittal strategy rather than a hung jury strategy. It was always more likely that he would face convictions across the board than a hung jury on all counts. It is also interesting that the jury basically discounted anything Rick Gates gave them at trial. It seems that there was unanimity from the outset that Gates is a dirt bag with no credibility.
It now appears that it was a single hold out on the jury that prolonged the case and resulted in ten hung counts. In the meantime, a juror who must have been viewed as a defense asset on the jury spoke out in surprising terms regarding the guilt of Paul Manafort.
Juror Paula Duncan, who is a Trump fan, said that she did not want Manafort to be guilty but he clearly is a felon. Indeed, she told Fox News that Manafort “deserves a special place in Hell.” The jury form repeatedly notes a vote of 11 to 1 and Duncan said that the female holdout would not be persauded by the jurors. Had it not been for this one juror, there would have been a sweep of the counts in favor of conviction in the first day.
Absent the pardon strategy, that leaves Manafort with little reason for optimism going into the D.C. trial. With Cohen flipping and David Pecker taking immunity, it is not clear if Manafort’s lawyer’s reference to considering “all options” would now include a plea. The upcoming charges are a parade of horribles for the defense and, if they came one vote from a sweep in D.C., Manafort could be looking at a nightmare in the District.