In an exclusive interview with Fox’s late night tv host Shannon Bream, a juror from the Manafort case spoke about the inside workings of the trial’s jury process. Paula Duncan, a Trump supporter, divulged that there was only one member of the jury who could not be persuaded to find Paul Manafort guilty on all 18 charges. The female juror held out by saying there was reasonable doubt.
The meaning of “reasonable doubt”, you may remember, was the question asked in that note passed to the judge during deliberations. Duncan confirmed that this was the reason for the question. She said the jury didn’t want a hung jury verdict so the other jurors continued to try to convince the hold-out that he was guilty on all charges. She simply wasn’t convinced in the end. Of the fact that there was only one hold-out, Duncan said, “I thought the public, America, needs to know how close it was.”
Duncan said she didn’t want Manafort to be guilty as the trial began but that no one is above the law. She said the charges were legit but that prosecution tried “right from the beginning to make it about Russian collusion and the judge shot them down on that.” She doesn’t think that support for or against President Trump influenced any of the jurors on how they voted.
Duncan told the Fox News at Night host that the deliberations were often heated and there were even some tears along the way. Sometimes jurors would decide one way and then come back the next day and have changed their mind. She said the hardest part was not being able to speak with the other jurors between deliberations. The jury panel ranged in age from 20’s to the oldest being age 69. One person drove 100 miles a day to participate. Duncan said her driving distance was the second longest. Sometimes the jurors tuned out the witnesses, she said, because jurors doubted their credibility. That is why the jury relied on the paper documents so heavily.
Her impression of the Mueller team was odd. She told Bream that she saw some of them napping during the trial. “They looked bored.” Wow! Bored? Of the Manafort team, she said she understood Manafort’s decision not to testify but wanted him to so that the jury could hear more of his defense. She “expected more”, she said.
About Rick Gates she said he “looked nervous” and since he took a plea they agreed to throw out his testimony. Since he turned on Manafort, he lost all credibility.
On the credibility of Cindy La Porta, the tax preparer, Duncan said some jurors thought she was credible. Duncan herself found her to be believable and contrite.
The judge and his running of the trial was described as “amazing.” She thought he was tough on both sides and said some funny things during the trial. In the end, she thought that how the case came to be prosecuted seemed unfair to her – that it was being used as a way to get Manafort to flip on President Trump.
When Shannon Bream asked her if she felt nervous about potential threats, Duncan said she did not. She said she was doing her civic duty and wanted to serve the country in any way she could.
What struck me throughout the interview was how completely normal she sounded. I’ve served on juries, as so many Americans do every year, and her accounting of this trial rang true to me. She was doing her civic duty. It was good to hear her story after non-stop cable news coverage of the Manafort trial. I’m glad she went to Fox News and Shannon Bream with her exclusive interview, otherwise, I probably would have missed it.