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Archive for August, 2018

Manafort Judge Mulled Declaring a Mistrial Over Chatty Jurors

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

The judge in the Paul Manafort trial was so concerned about chatty jurors that he considered declaring a mistrial in the middle of the fraud case against the former Trump campaign chairman.

Judge T.S. Ellis had learned that some jurors during the trial were commenting on the case and politics, and one juror stated “the defense was weak,” according to newly unsealed court transcripts.

Jurors are prohibited from discussing the case until deliberations begin.

Ellis interviewed each juror before deciding not to declare a mistrial.

The concerns about chatty jury members explains why the trial was delayed for five hours on Aug. 10 and continued with interruptions for the next three days.

Ellis also discussed the revelations with the defense and prosecution, expressing his concerns about jurors violating the rules, which are meant to keep jurors from influencing each other before the closing arguments.

Manafort’s defense attorney, Richard Wrestling, argued the chit-chat was a sufficient reason to declare a mistrial.

“This clearly is crossing the line if it, in fact, happened,” Wrestling told the judge. “It suggests someone who has left beside — behind the presumption of innocence the defendant is entitled to until the evidence is all in.”

After one-on-one interviews with the jurors, the judge decided the jury had maintained its objectivity and wasn’t influencing each other.

Showoff FBI Agent in Court After Backflip Leads to Gun Shooting Man

Screenshot of a viral video showing the agent’s weapon going off.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

An FBI agent charged with a felony for accidentally shooting a man when the gun in his holster fell off after he did a backflip on a Denver dance floor waived his right to a preliminary hearing.

Chase Bishop, 30, is now scheduled to be arraigned in district court on Oct. 18 on one count of second-degree assault in connection with the June 2 nightclub shooting that wounded a man in the leg, the Denver Post reports

FBI Agent Chase Bishop

The news went viral after a video of the incident was posted online. It showed Bishop, who was off duty, showing off as onlookers encircled him when he did a backflip, causing the gun to fall from his holster around his waist. As he retrieved the weapon, it fired into the crowd.

In a strange development, Bishop was allowed to carry his service weapon again – on and off duty.

Lone Holdout Prevented Jury from Convicting Manafort on All 18 Counts

Juror Paula Duncan

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

A lone holdout in the trial of Paul Manafort prevented the jury from convicting the former Trump campaign chairman on all 18 counts of bank and tax fraud, according to a juror who described herself as a supporter of President Trump.

“We all tried to convince her to look at the paper trail. We laid it out in front of her again and again, and she still said that she had a reasonable doubt,” juror Paula Duncan said in an interview on Fox News. “We didn’t want it to be hung, so we tried for an extended period of time to convince her. But in the end she held out, and that’s why we have 10 counts that did not get a verdict.”

The 12-member jury unanimously reached a guilty verdict in eight of the 18 counts but could not reach consensus on the other 10 counts because one juror who said she had reasonable doubts about the other 1o counts could not be swayed, Duncan said.

As a result, Judge T.S. Ellis declared a mistrial on the 10 counts.

Duncan described the deliberations as intense and emotional.

“It was a very emotionally charged jury room – there were some tears,” Duncan said.

Duncan, an avid Trump supporter, said she was skeptical of the prosecutors’ motives in charging Manafort but had no choice in reaching the guilty verdicts because the prosecutors’ case was too strong. 

“Certainly Mr. Manafort got caught breaking the law, but he wouldn’t have gotten caught if they weren’t after President Trump,” Duncan insisted, adding that she believed the special counsel’s case was a “witch hunt to try to find Russian collusion.”

Manafort was ordered to stay in jail until a sentencing hearing was scheduled for sometime later this year. The 69-year-old who spent more than $15 million to fund his lavish lifestyle, could end up sending the rest of his life behind bars.

Manafort also faces another trial later this year on separate charges.

GOP Rep. Hunter Indicted Over Lavish Personal Expenses from Campaign Funds

U.S. Rep. Duncan Hunter, via U.S. Department of Defense.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

U.S. Rep. Duncan Hunter and his wife, Margaret, were indicted Tuesday on dozens of charges that allege they used campaign donations to pay for personal expenses, from family vacations and dental work to theater tickets and school tuition.

The Republican from Alpine, Calif., is accused of spending more than $250,000 in campaign funds on personal expenses between 2009 and 2016 and filing false campaign finance records to cover up the unlawful spending, the Wall Street Journal reports

House Speaker Paul Ryan stripped Hunter of his committee assignments.

“The charges against Rep. Hunter are deeply serious,” Mr. Ryan said in a statement.

Nevertheless, Hunter claimed the 60-count indictment was politically motivated.

According to the indictment, Hunter and his wife used the campaign funds for ski trips, hotel stays, European vacations, dinners and even video games.

Watergate Prosecutor Calls Trump ‘An Unindicted Co-Conspirator’ After Cohen Plea Deal

Nick Akerman

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Nick Akerman knows a thing or two about corruption in the White House: He was one of the Watergate prosecutors who helped bring down President Nixon.

So what did Akerman think of Michael Cohen implicating his former longtime client, President Trump, on Tuesday?

“There’s no question about it,” Akerman told MSNBC. “This makes the president of the United States an unindicted co-conspirator.”

The ominous term, “unindicted co-conspirator,” was used by the Watergate grand jury to describe Nixon’s involvement in the scandal.

“This is the first time this has happened since Richard Nixon was named as an unindicted co-conspirator in the Watergate trial,” Akerman said. “This is a big deal.”

Akerman wasn’t alone in using the Watergate-era phrase to describe Trump.

“If the prosecutors accept what is in this indictment, then the president just became an unindicted co-conspirator,” said Jonathan Turley, a law professor at George Washington University. “If they believe that what’s in this indictment was true, and that he was directed to make this payment … then the president just became an unindicted co-conspirator, and he could become an indicted co-conspirator depending on the timing and circumstances.”

Cohen’s Attorney: ‘No Doubt That Donald Trump Committed a Crime’ And Tried to Cover It Up

Michael Cohen, former attorney for President Trump.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Michael Cohen’s attorney dropped a bombshell on President Trump on Tuesday night.

“I do know Michael Cohen has information that would be of interest to Mr. Mueller in his probe of a conspiracy to corrupt American democracy,” Larry Davis told CNN’s Don Lemon.

Davis didn’t stop there:  “There is no doubt that Donald Trump committed a crime and, more than that, a cover-up of the crime. Because he did not want to write the check to Stormy Daniels.”

The devastating comments for the president came just hours after Cohen, Trump’s former attorney and fixer, pleaded guilty to bank and tax fraud and violating campaign finance laws in federal court in Manhattan.

Cohen, who faces about four to five years in prison, said the money he paid to two women who claimed to have an affair with Trump was intended to buy their silence.

“I participated in the conduct for the purposes of influencing the election,” Cohen said about the payments to Daniels and Karen McDougal.”

Davis said Cohen felt “liberated” after pleading guilty to eight criminal counts.

“Patriotism and love of country caused him to recognize the danger of this particular President, his lack of suitability to be President of the United States,” Davis said of Cohen.

How One Disastrous Hour Could Change Everything for President Trump

President Trump

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

It was a devastating hour for President Trump.

Between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. Tuesday, Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, was found guilty of eight counts of bank and tax fraud.

At roughly the same time, the president’s former attorney and fixer, Michael Cohen, implicated Trump in a payoff scheme to silence women who said they had an affair with him.

The revelations served to undermine Trump’s repeated claims that he is the victim of a “witch hunt.” And even more, it provided more evidence to special counsel Robert Mueller, who already is investigating whether the president colluded with Russia and obstructed justice.

The news also could increase the chances that Trump, depending on what happens during the midterm elections, could face impeachment proceedings. Republicans who have defended Trump are now going to find it much more difficult to stand behind the president.

Sen. Mark Warner, vice chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, said the Manafort has severely damaged Trump’s credibility.

“This verdict makes it absolutely clear that the Mueller probe is not a ‘witch hunt’ — it is a serious investigation that is rooting out corruption and Russian influence on our political system at the highest levels,” Warner said in a statement obtained by the Los Angeles Times. “The President’s campaign manager was just convicted of serious federal crimes by a jury of his peers, despite the President’s continued attempts to undermine the investigation which has brought Mr. Manafort to justice. Any attempt by the President to pardon Mr. Manafort or interfere in the investigation into his campaign would be a gross abuse of power and require immediate action by Congress.”

But most damaging to Trump were Cohen’s statements to a judge while in federal court in Manhattan on Tuesday. The 51-year-old attorney said he had paid $130,000 and $150,000 in hush money to women who claimed they had affairs with Trump. Cohen said the money was meant to buy their silence “with the purpose of influencing the election.”

Cohen faces about four to five years in prison after pleading guilty to five counts of tax fraud, one of bank fraud and two counts of violating campaign finance laws.

Jury Convicts Manafort on 8 of 18 Counts

Paul Manafort

Update: 6:04 p.m. Tuesday —  A federal jury in Alexandria, Va., found President Trump’s campaign manager guilty of eight tax and bank fraud charges. The jury was deadlocked on the other 10, the Washington Post reports. 

________________________

Reported from Earlier Today

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

The jury in the trial of Paul Manafort, the former Trump campaign chairman accused of bank and tax fraud, alerted a judge that it is split on at least one count and wanted instructions on how to proceed.

The news came late Tuesday morning on the fourth day of deliberations in a case that could send Manafort to prison for the rest of his life if he’s found guilty.

“Your honor, if we cannot come to a consensus on a single count, how should we fill in the jury verdict form for that count, and what does that mean for the final verdict?” the note asked U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III, the Washington Post reports

The jury is tasked with reaching a verdict on 18 counts filed by special counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating whether Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia to meddle in the presidential election.

Manafort is accused of hiding millions of dollars in foreign bank accounts to avoid paying taxes on profits he made while working as a consultant for a Ukrainian political party with ties to the Kremlin. He also was charged with lying about his income to obtain loans to support what prosecutors described as an extravagant, excessive lifestyle that included six homes and an assortment of very expensive clothes.