Jury deliberations start in Manafort trial

Microphones are set up in front of the Albert V. Bryan United States Courthouse as the jury begins deliberation in the trial of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort

Jurors told the judge they wish to continue working until 6:15 Monday.

The jury has begun deliberations in the fraud trial of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

Monday marks the third day that jurors ponder the 18-count indictment.

In a break with convention, Trump weighed in on the trial on Friday, calling the case against Manafort at the federal court in Alexandria, Virginia, "very sad" and lauding his former associate as a "very good person". They also say he lied on loan applications to obtain millions more to maintain a lavish lifestyle.

It also worked to discredit the key prosecution witness in the case, Trump's former deputy campaign manager Rick Gates, who had already pleaded guilty to helping hide millions in income from USA tax authorities.

The case is the first to go to trial stemming from Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russia's role in the 2016 US election, although the charges largely predate Manafort's five months working on Donald Trump's successful campaign.

The verdict, in the hands of 12 jurors, will provide a measure of the special counsel's ability to make charges stick. That included a request to "redefine" reasonable doubt.

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Wu said he still saw a chance of acquittals on the four counts of failing to disclose foreign bank accounts, citing the jury's technical question on Thursday about the ownership and control threshold requirements for such disclosures.

The conversations lasted about 10 minutes each, and Ellis said transcripts will be made public at the end of the trial.

Defence lawyers say the government failed to prove its case. Attorneys for Manafort argued against his guilt by saying he left the particulars of his finances to other people, including his former deputy Rick Gates.

Defense attorney Richard Westling said Manafort became the special counsel's victim in a "selective process of pulling" his financial records to concoct a narrative of an "elaborate fraud scheme".

Jurors asked if the judge could define the term "shelf company" and whether they could receive an updated exhibit list that would connect evidence to corresponding charges.

Judge T.S. Eliis III said during a hearing Friday afternoon he is concerned for the "peace and safety of the jurors". He declined to delve into specifics, but said he's been taken aback by the level of interest in the trial.

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