Jurors in the Roger Stone trial spent more than five hours Thursday ensconced in the Washington, D.C., federal courthouse without reaching a verdict.
The only indication of how the jury was leaning came via two notes passed to the U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson, expressing confusion about what appeared to be just one of the charges against the longtime GOP strategist.
The 12-person jury, composed of nine women and three men, will return Friday morning for a second day of deliberations as they weigh the fate of the one-time Donald Trump adviser who is fighting charges of lying to Congress and obstructing lawmakers’ probe into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
If convicted on all seven counts, Stone faces a maximum potential prison term of 50 years. But he’d likely be sentenced in step with federal guidelines that typically call for a much more lenient punishment for first-time offenders.
Federal prosecutors took over the Stone case from special counsel Robert Mueller, who indicted Stone in January for lying to the House Intelligence Committee as it sought the identity of a person Stone claimed was his intermediary to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. Mueller accused Stone of withholding evidence of talks he had with the potential Assange intermediary and of misleading lawmakers about conversations with the Trump campaign about WikiLeaks. Mueller also charged Stone with tampering with one of the witnesses in that congressional investigation.
As the jury deliberated Thursday, Stone and his lawyers huddled in a private office and were occasionally spotted pacing in the hallways outside Jackson’s courtroom.
Jackson, an Obama appointee, presided over the weeklong trial. On Thursday, she and attorneys for both sides handled a pair of questions from the jury that appeared to center on one particular count in the indictment against Stone: a charge that he lied when he told the House Intelligence Committee that his only conduit to WikiLeaks was liberal talk show host and comic Randy Credico.
The problem jurors seemed to be having was that Stone didn’t mention Credico by name at the September 2017 House hearing. Stone declined to name his contact, but said he’d consult with the person and see if he would permit his name to be shared with the committee. The next month, Stone’s lawyers sent the panel a letter identifying Credico as the intermediary. But prosecutors have said Stone actually had another go-between with WikiLeaks: conservative author and conspiracy buff Jerome Corsi.
The jurors’ first question was a bit murky, the judge said.
“I’m trying to solve their problem,” Jackson explained. “They haven’t told me what their problem is.”
That note appeared to center on whether the lawyers’ letter amounted to testimony for the false statement charge. Jackson ultimately sided with Stone’s attorneys, telling the jury “no,” the letter did not count as testimony.
The second note zeroed in on the count’s language, prompting Jackson to acknowledge that the charge seemed to combine the allegation of specifying a single intermediary and identifying that intermediary as Credico.
“The ambiguity is in the language,” the judge said, while jurors were still outside the courtroom.
Just before 4 p.m., Jackson called in the jurors and essentially repeated her jury instructions on that charge.
“It’s up to you to decide whether the government has proved beyond a reasonable doubt whether he testified falsely regarding that matter. I’m going to excuse you to continue your deliberations,” the judge said.
At least one juror visibly expressed annoyance at the response, gesturing with her hands as if to suggest the exchange was pointless.
“The facial expressions indicated to me that some of them were as frustrated as we anticipated,” Jackson said after the jury filed out.
Jurors’ will resume their deliberations on Friday morning.
Article originally published on POLITICO Magazine