Twelve Scared Men and Seven Angry News Organisations


High drama at the intersection of politics, judicial system and the media:

Paul Manafort’s trial will stretch into a fourth week, as jurors headed home Friday without reaching a verdict for the second straight day and the judge overseeing the case alluded to “threats” the jury may be receiving.

“I had no idea this case would incite this emotion,” U.S. District Court Judge T.S. Ellis III said in an open court hearing, responding to a motion from seven news organizations, including POLITICO, seeking access to sealed materials related to the trial that would have publicly identified the jurors.

Ellis denied the motion, telling the courtroom that jurors were “scared” and “afraid.” As a result, Ellis said, he didn’t “feel right” releasing the names of the 12-person jury.

My friend John Hinderaker at Powerline Blog explains:

The case that Bob Mueller has brought against Paul Manafort has nothing to do with Donald Trump or the 2016 election. It is irrelevant to any significant political issue. But Democrats worry that Mueller’s prosecution of Manafort for years-ago tax evasion may fail, thereby making a laughingstock of the special counsel investigation in which they have invested so much. What happens when Democrats are afraid they may lose a political battle? Things get nasty…

Good for Judge Ellis. Why do you suppose seven news organizations–all liberal, presumably–wanted to know who the jurors are and where they live? They are worried that the jury, having heard the evidence, may not render the “right” verdict, i.e., the one that helps the Democratic Party.

So they want to know who the jurors are so they can apply pressure on them through mob action, newspaper denunciations, online harassment and so on. This is how today’s Democratic Party operates. If the jury fails to render the Democrats’ preferred verdict, what do you suppose Maxine Waters will suggest Democrats should do to the jurors if they venture out in public?

How do you spell “jury intimidation by the media”? In the past, it used to be the Mob, now it’s just the mob. The outlets, by the way, are CNN, NBC, “The New York Times”, Politico, the Associated Press, Buzzfeed and “The Washington Post”.

Manafort by all accounts is an unsavoury character, one that is often found where money and politics meet, particularly around dodgy locations like Kiev or Washington DC. But as John correctly writes, the tax offences he is being prosecuted for predate the 2016 presidential campaign by years. This is a Trump trial by proxy, because Mueller can’t get (at least not so far and not yet) Trump himself. Thus Manafort is a scapegoat in the original meaning of the term as an animal sacrificed in lieu of a person. That this scapegoat is shady and most likely guilty of something or other doesn’t change the situation. It’s a case of “yeah, that’s good, but…”

Jurors are all ordinary people dragooned to do their civic duty. No one volunteers to be on a jury, and I’m pretty sure no one was particularly busting to sit on the Manafort jury. These – and all the other – twelve people do the thankless and dirty work on behalf of us all to ensure that justice is done as well as it can be done by fallible human beings; certainly no one has yet devised a better and fairer system. They are not public or elected officials or indeed public figures, and shouldn’t be treated as such. They certainly don’t deserve being doxxed and potentially having their lives turned upside down because people out there think they might make the wrong decision. But I suspect this is what will happen, more likely after the verdict, if that verdict is not “guilty on all counts”. The matter has been so thoroughly politicised that if the anti-Trump forces can’t get the verdict they expect they will get the jurors, one way or another. I pity the twelve.