The jury in the federal trial of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort ended the first day of deliberations Thursday without a verdict, but did ask the judge a series of questions before breaking -- a development the defense took as good news.
One source close to the Manafort team told Fox News, “We’re in the game.”
Before court was adjourned in the afternoon, U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III announced that jurors would continue their work on Friday morning.
Ellis read aloud a note detailing four questions from the jury, which covered foreign financial accounts, shell companies, the definition of reasonable doubt and other evidence in the case.
Outside court on Thursday, Manafort’s defense attorney, Kevin Downing, called the questions from the jury -- especially the one about reasonable doubt -- a “good sign.”
“So, overall a very good day for Mr. Manafort,” Downing told reporters.
After a trial spanning nearly three weeks, Manafort, 69, is awaiting a verdict on tax evasion and bank fraud charges. He has been accused of hiding income earned from his Ukrainian political work from the IRS. He’s also accused of fraudulently obtaining millions in bank loans.
He has pleaded not guilty to the charges.
A humorous moment occurred earlier Thursday after Ellis excused the jury from the courtroom.
“Mr. Trump, are you here?” the judge asked, eliciting an audible gasp from the many reporters in the room.
It turned out the judge was referring to a man named Jim Trump, a prosecutor who was present in court for the next case and has no relation to President Trump. The moment resulted in a smile and a laugh from Manafort.
Before deliberations started, Ellis acknowledged that the jury room is small. He offered to let the jurors use his conference room to deliberate instead. The jury, though, informed the judge that the members would prefer to deliberate in the break room, where they eat lunch. Ellis granted the request.
A unanimous verdict from the 12 jurors is required to convict Manafort on each of the 18 counts against him.
During closing arguments on Wednesday, attorneys for Manafort suggested that Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team had improperly ensnared their client in his ongoing probe of alleged Russian influence in U.S. politics.
Manafort attorney Richard Westling told jurors that banks had not reported any problems with Manafort to regulators "until the special counsel came and asked questions," and he accused prosecutors of "stacking" charges against Manafort. And Downing, the other defense attorney, said several times the prosecution should have been handled by an IRS audit, rather than through a high-profile federal prosecution by the special counsel's office.
Prosecutors said both arguments violated a pretrial agreement not to discuss the larger political context of the case. Later in the day, during jury instructions that lasted well over an hour, Ellis told jurors to ignore the defense team's suggestion that the Mueller prosecution was politically motivated.
Throughout their closing arguments during the day, defense attorneys claimed prosecutors had produced "not a single bit" of evidence in support of their charges.
On Wednesday, prosecutors used their closing arguments to paint the former Trump campaign chairman as a chronic liar, telling jurors Manafort is “not above the law.”
The prosecution’s star witness, Rick Gates – Manafort’s former business partner, who struck a plea deal to cooperate with the government -- testified that he and Manafort committed bank and tax fraud together.
Manafort’s legal troubles won’t end with this trial. He is also facing charges in a separate federal court case in Washington, including allegations of conspiring against the United States, conspiring to launder money, failing to register as an agent of a foreign principal and providing false statements.
Fox News’ Peter Doocy, Meghan Welsh, Lucas Tomlinson and Gregg Re contributed to this report.