No verdict as Manafort jury breaks for weekend

Jury in Paul Manafort trial poses questions about reasonable doubt

"I don't feel right if I release their names", he said.

"They go where I go", the judge said.

It is unusual for a USA president to comment about the character of a defendant in an ongoing trial and criticize the legal proceedings.

The jury was excused for the day and is to return Friday to continue deliberations. Judge Ellis read the note aloud to court - which asked to leave at 5pm instead of 5.30pm.

He made the surprising statement during a hearing at which a consortium of news organizations pressed for the release of jurors' names, along with other documents sealed during the trial. The judge rejected the request for juror information, citing security concerns. He declined to delve into specifics, but said he's been taken aback by the level of interest in the trial.

But if any juror has a reasonable doubt - "a doubt based in reason", Ellis said - then Manafort's presumption of innocence would still be intact.

"I won't tell you what threats I've received, but I have the protection of the Marshals", Ellis said.

Earlier in the day, Ellis said he was open to scrutiny.

"A thirsty press is essential in a free country", Ellis said.

The case has drawn particular interest in the USA because it is the first trial conducted by Mueller's prosecutors in their wide-ranging investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 election. It features a presidential campaign chair with ties to Russian oligarchs, while the president himself stands accused of colluding with Russians to win the election.

The prosecutors have brought charges of bank and tax fraud against the President Donald Trump's former campaign chair, Paul Manafort.

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The Ukrainian government found ledgers pledging more than $12m (£9.2m) in cash to Mr Manafort for his advisory work with former President Viktor Yanukovych while he was in office, the New York Times reported.

Manafort joined the Trump campaign in March 2016 and served as its chairman from June to August of that year - a period that included the Republican National Convention, where Trump officially became the party's nominee for president.

Here's the thing: This Manafort trial - as Trump likes to remind anyone who asks - has zero to do with the time he spent as the head of Trump's 2016 campaign.

Two of the questions sought definitions of laws or technical terms.

The jury ended its first day of deliberations with a series of questions to the judge, including a request to "redefine" reasonable doubt.

The question Thursday does not necessarily indicate that the jury as a whole is grappling with doubts about Manafort's guilt and whether those doubts are reasonable. Instead, it dealt nearly totally on accusations about his financial transactions and what he did with the money from Yanukovych and the bank loans.

Prosecutors say Manafort hid tens of millions of dollars in foreign income from the IRS, money he made advising politicians in Ukraine.

Prosecutors and defense lawyers presented their closing arguments Wednesday, the prosecution arguing Manafort's life was "littered with lies" as he bought palatial mansions, expensive suits, cars, electronics and other high-priced items.

The Justice Department rarely tries to prove criminal foreign account report violations at trial.

Leaving the courthouse after learning of the jury's questions, Manafort's lead attorney Kevin Downing told reporters that the jury's questions are "good news" for Manafort.

The charges in D.C. could result in an even lengthier sentence than what Manafort faces in Virginia.

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