ALEXANDRIA, Va. — The judge in the tax- and bank-fraud trial against onetime Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort said Friday he’s been threatened over the case, denying a request from media outlets to release the names and addresses of the jurors.
Judge T.S. Ellis III said he’s not going to reveal the specifics of the threats he received.
“I have the marshals’ protection,” he said.
In denying the request from CNN, The Associated Press, Politico, NBC News, The New York Times, The Washington Post and BuzzFeed News, Ellis said he has no reason to believe the jurors wouldn’t also be exposed to threats if their names were revealed.
“I had no idea this case would excite these emotions, I will tell you frankly,” he said.
Had the jurors been told at the outset of the case that their names would be revealed, Ellis said he likely would have seen some requests to be excused.
“I don’t feel right if I release their names,” he said.
Ellis also denied the media coalition’s request for access to sealed portions of sidebar transcripts and any other records and transcripts that have been sealed that may not appear on the public docket in the case.
Ellis said a substantial amount of the bench conferences under seal will be made public at the end of the trial, but there’s one matter he said might not be revealed.
He said he put the matter under seal because he doesn’t want to interfere with any ongoing investigations.
Ellis granted a request by special counsel Robert Mueller’s team last week to keep sealed a portion of a bench discussion that occurred during the testimony of Manafort’s former business aid Richard Gates. The government argued on Aug. 9 that sealing a portion of the sidebar conference “is necessary because it would reveal substantive evidence pertaining to an ongoing government investigation.”
The development triggered speculation that Gates, who was also a member of Trump’s campaign and served on the presidential transition team, is cooperating in Mueller’s Russia investigation beyond Manafort’s case.
The hearing comes amid the second day of jury deliberations in the first trial that’s resulted from Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s 2016 election interference.