Potential jurors in former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort’s upcoming Alexandria federal court trial filled out questionnaires Tuesday asking what they know about the case and whether they are able to ignore all of that to decide on a verdict.
“You will be asked questions about what you’ve seen or know or heard,” Judge T.S. Ellis III told the group of about 70 possible jurors Tuesday morning, and, “Can you put what you’ve read and learned aside?”
Manafort, whose trial is set to begin July 31, is accused of bank and tax fraud, but he is being prosecuted by the special counsel investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election.
His attorneys had hoped to ask jurors whether they voted in that election and for other signs of their political views. On Monday, Ellis rejected such political questions as “theater.”
“I’m not in the theater business,” Ellis said. “You have to be better-looking for that.”
The judge said jurors will also be asked about their law enforcement ties. Prosecutors said they plan to call witnesses from the Internal Revenue Service, FBI and Financial Crimes Enforcement Network.
“I expect this trial will last no more than three weeks,” Ellis told jurors. It might be less, he said: “I will make every effort to shorten the trial.”
Ellis emphasized the importance of the jury system, saying, “Nothing you do as an American citizen is any more important than jury service.”
He also told prosecutors he would make their witness list public by the end of the week, although that is not common practice in the Eastern District of Virginia.
“Why shouldn’t it be public?” Ellis asked, adding, “This isn’t a typical case.”