The judge presiding over Paul Manafort’s federal fraud and tax crime trial said on Friday that he travels with the protection of U.S. marshalls after receiving threats.
“I had no idea this case would excite these emotions, I will tell you frankly,” Judge T.S. Ellis said in court, as the jury continued its second day of deliberations in the case.
Judge Ellis also said he would withhold the names and addresses of jurors from media organizations, normally a matter of public record, due to threats that he did not detail, because jurors are not under protection. He cited the “peace and safety of the jurors” in discussing what material under seal during the trial would be released at its conclusion. “I don’t feel right if I release their names,” he said.
Jurors may speak to the media and about their deliberations after the trial is over, and the judge complimented the several media organizations that had filed a request to obtain trial proceedings: “A thirsty press is essential in a free country,” he said.
Manafort’s trial focuses entirely on alleged fraud and tax evasion, in a scheme prosecutors describe as an attempt to continue living a high-flying lifestyle after revenue from his consulting arrangements with the former head of Ukraine and other politicians dried up. Manafort was in President Donald Trump’s inner circle and served briefly as the head of his campaign in 2016.
Robert Mueller, the special counsel for the Department of Justice, led this prosecution, which arose from evidence uncovered by his team as it pursued whether Russia had attempted to influence the outcome of the 2016 presidential election.