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Manafort stoic as 8 guilty verdicts arrived

ALEXANDRIA (AP) Paul Manafort stood stoic and unblinking, his hands clasped in front of him, as a court clerk read off eight guilty counts against him — a list of offenses that could send President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman to prison for more than a decade.

The 16-day bank and tax fraud trial was colorful throughout, with details about ostrich-leather jackets, dramatic testimony from a former protégé turned state’s evidence, and a judge unafraid to lob rhetorical bombshells at lawyers.

But after four days of deliberations, the Aug. 21 verdict arrived somewhat sneakily, under the guise of what was billed as a generic note from the jury.

U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III read the note, which indicated that the jury had reached a verdict on eight counts but remained deadlocked on 10 others despite an admonition earlier in the day from the judge to keep working toward unanimous verdicts.

At this point, Ellis indicated he believed he had a “manifest necessity to proceed” and thought further efforts to break the deadlock on the remaining 10 counts would be unwise.

Ellis then said he planned to call the jury in and have the verdicts on the eight unanimous counts read immediately. This came as an unpleasant surprise to some journalists, because Ellis had previously made clear anyone in the room would be required to stay in the courtroom for the entirety of the session.

Media outlets that wanted to be able to report the very first “guilty” or “not guilty” needed to be in an overflow room three levels down.

Indeed, a burly U.S. marshal temporarily blocked reporters from exiting the courtroom as the jury started to make its way in, until Ellis motioned for him to allow reporters a brief window of time to excuse themselves.

After that, all eyes focused on the jurors, and on Manafort. The jury of six men and six women kept their gaze primarily on the judge, as they have throughout the trial.

Manafort stood in a well-worn dark suit and powder-blue tie, staring at the jury as the clerk read off the counts finding him guilty. His face remained frozen even as the first “guilty” verdict was read, followed by seven straight additional pronouncements of “guilty.”

When the jury was done, Manafort sat back down with his lawyers. As Ellis thanked the jury for the service, Manafort stared down blankly at the defense table.

The tension in the courtroom broke temporarily as Ellis complimented the lawyers on both sides for their work and digressed briefly to discuss the attention the case has generated and the critiques levied against him.

“We all take brickbats in life,” Ellis said in typically florid language, prompting smiles and light laughter from the lawyers and those in the gallery. Manafort remained grim and stone-faced.

Manafort sat blankly through the final few minutes of the hearing, as the judge and lawyers discussed timelines for prosecutors to decide on seeking a retrial for the 10 counts that went deadlocked and for defense lawyers to decide on filing a motion asking the judge to set aside the convictions.

He appeared to make eye contact with his wife, Kathleen, who has sat in the front row of the gallery behind him throughout the trial, before being led out by marshals.

-MATTHEW BARAKAT, Associated Press

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