A juror in Paul Manafort’s trial admitted Wednesday that his crimes would have likely never been discovered had it not been for what she described as a witch hunt to try and “dirt on Trump.”
“It might have been [found via] a tax audit, but it wasn’t, and I think that they used Manafort to get the dirt on Trump, or hoping that he would flip on Trump,” juror Paula Duncan, 52, said during an interview with Fox News. “Certainly Mr. Manafort got caught breaking the law, but he wouldn’t have gotten caught if they weren’t after President Trump.”
This is one reason why President Donald Trump is believed to be considering issuing a pardon. He feels guilty about his former campaign manager’s convictions.
“I feel badly… Paul Manafort is a good man,” President Trump said Tuesday. “I feel very sad about that because it involved me. It’s a very sad thing that happened. It has nothing to do with Russian collusion, it’s a witch hunt and it’s a disgrace… I feel very badly for Paul Manafort.”
Dovetailing back to Duncan, she told Fox News host Shannon Bream that she ultimately ruled against Manafort on all charges, despite personally wanting him to not be guilty:
“Finding Mr. Manafort guilty was hard for me. I wanted him to be innocent, I really wanted him to be innocent, but he wasn’t. That’s the part of a juror, you have to have due diligence and deliberate and look at the evidence and come up with an informed and intelligent decision, which I did.”
Because of one holdout, Manafort wound up being found guilty on only eight counts of tax and bank fraud. A mistrial was declared for the other 10 counts, including “three counts of failing to file reports of foreign bank and financial accounts, and seven counts of bank fraud and bank fraud conspiracy.”
Despite her misgivings over the Russian “witch hunt,” Duncan was nonetheless confident that she and the other jurors had reached the right decision.
“I think we all went in there like we were supposed to and assumed that Mr. Manafort was innocent,” she said. “We did due diligence. We applied the evidence, our notes, the witnesses, and we came up with the guilty verdict on the eight counts.”
“[T]he evidence was overwhelming,” she added. “I did not want Paul Manafort to be guilty, but he was. No one is above the law.”
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