Jurors began deliberating last week in the trial of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort — and a former federal prosecutor told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” what might be taking so long to reach a verdict.
Barbara McQuade, who stepped down last year as U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan at the request of President Donald Trump, said she believed the evidence against Manafort was strong, but extremely complicated.
“I watched the trial and I think it is a very strong case,” McQuade said. “I do still think that the jury is likely to convict, ultimately. I think any reasonable jury would convict, although you never know the makeup of any particular jury.”
As deliberations continue into a fourth day, McQuade said prosecutors shouldn’t necessarily be worried.
“The fact they’ve been at it for three days is not yet cause for concern by the government,” she said.
U.S. District Court Judge T.S. Ellis is known for challenging prosecutors, and McQuade said some of those hurdles he set up during the trial have slowed down deliberations.
“I think one thing about this judge, you know, he was very difficult on the prosecution,” McQuade said. “He had some extraneous statements. I’m told he is always that way, this is sort of how he rolls.”
Ellis tried to speed up the trial by refusing to allow prosecutors to display some evidence in open court as it was discussed by witnesses, and McQuade said jurors may be taking their time examining some of those exhibits during deliberations.
“It is a complicated case with financial transactions and documents,” McQuade said. “I think that the time they saved in the trial they may be giving back in the deliberations as the jury now needs to go and pull out all of those documents and look at them and see how they match up.”
She said the jurors have signaled that the exhibits were confusing to some of them.
“One of the questions they have asked is whether they could have some sort of key or chart showing them which exhibits match up with which counts or which witnesses, and the judge said no,” McQuade said. “So they’re doing that work themselves, and I think in a case with more than 400 exhibits, it could take them some time. So I wouldn’t be worried yet that it is taking too long. I think that they are meticulously doing their job.”