STAND BY YOUR MAN
Pro-Trump Juror: I Really Wanted Paul Manafort to Be Innocent
Paula Duncan said she wanted to believe in Manafort’s innocence, but found the evidence against him overwhelming. That being said, she believes President Trump is doing ‘great.’
“I wanted Paul Manafort to be innocent, but he wasn’t.”
That was the ultimate reason why Paula Duncan, one of the jurors in the Paul Manafort trial, pushed to convict the former Trump campaign manager on all counts.
Duncan, the sole juror to speak out in public about the trial since finding Manafort guilty of eight federal charges on Tuesday, believes the evidence was overwhelming. And she made clear that her own pro-Trump politics did not interfere with the decision to convict.
In an interview Thursday with NBC News, the MAGA mom admitted that while she ended up with no doubts about Manafort’s guilt, she came to the trial thinking Robert Mueller's Russia investigation is a “witch hunt” that is dividing America.
“Certainly Mr. Manafort got caught breaking the law, but he wouldn’t have gotten caught if they weren’t after President Trump,” Duncan told Fox News host Shannon Bream on Fox News @ Night on Wednesday.
The jury's decision to convict Paul Manafort came after four days of deliberations and several notes to the judge. Coincidentally, the verdict also came just minutes after Donald Trump’s former personal attorney Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to violating campaign finance laws in New York.
The Manafort jury's decision would have come quicker, Duncan said, if not for a lone holdout from a juror who did not want to convict Manafort on 10 of the 18 counts.
Despite pleas from the other 11 jurors, the 12th one—whom Duncan described as a female non-Trump supporter—did not budge.
“We all tried to convince her to look at the paper trail. We laid it out in front of her again and again and she still said that she had a reasonable doubt. And that's the way the jury worked,” Duncan recounted.
The lone juror’s decision forced the Virginia federal judge presiding over the case to declare a mistrial on the 10 other charges Manafort faced.
The government has the authority to set another trial date for those remaining ten charges, but only has until next week to decide.
“It was so frustrating,” Duncan told NBC News on Thursday. "She just couldn't explain to us why she had reasonable doubt. We could provide her with the information but she wouldn't change her votes."
Despite convicting a key member of Trump’s campaign team, Duncan still remains loyal in supporting President Trump and his mission to “Make America Great Again.”
The Virginia native told NBC News she believes Manafort was just a “pawn” in Mueller’s ongoing probe and doesn’t hold the president accountable for hiring a criminal to run his campaign.
Trump, she said, “is doing a great job.”
"[Manafort] was running Donald Trump’s campaign in my opinion because he was brilliant as a political strategist," Duncan said, noting that even the government’s witnesses said the same.
In regards to the Russian investigation, Duncan said she doesn't know if she believes the Kremlin interfered in the 2016 election, telling Fox News that she didn’t personally see any Russians in the election booth.
“I as a voter, when I went out to check my boxes I didn't see any Russian holding a gun to my head, so how could Russia have affected the campaign results,” she said.
But Duncan believes she was alone in her ideals among the Manafort jurors, claiming that the rest of her colleagues “were probably not of my political leanings.”
However, she said, she made a point not to divulge her political leanings in the jury selection process. “I didn’t believe politics had any place in that courtroom, so I was somewhat vague in my answers. I knew I could be fair and impartial,” Duncan told NBC News.
Ultimately, Duncan said, the trial had nothing to do with politics.
Though the prosecution looked “bored” to the point of taking a nap during parts of the trial, she believed they presented compelling evidence that Manafort evaded taxes and committed fraud.
“In the end I did what we needed to be done,” she said. “I did the right thing.”