Judge T.S. Ellis III‘s courtroom was sparsely attended earlier Thursday morning as a plea agreement was dispensed with before proceedings began in the government’s case against Paul Manafort. Judge Ellis decided to have some fun with those who showed up.
Matters in the Manafort case officially began at 9:47 a.m. and the jury arrived for roll call by 9:51 a.m. Judge Ellis told the jury, “The moment of deliberation is a precise one,” but noted, “that moment has not yet arrived.” He implored the jurors not to begin deliberations until they have all the exhibits an the verdict form–as supplied by the court security officer–but noted that ultimately the choice is up to them.
After a brief discussion about the jury choosing to deliberate in their break room instead of the much smaller jury room, Judge Ellis sent the jury back to begin their discussions. Ellis then briefly addressed reporters in attendance. He had various other matters to deal with in the course of official court business and said everyone was welcome to stay. He hoped, however, that the press would make room for people with actual cases before him.
Then a medium-sized fireworks display. Judge Ellis called out:
Mr. Trump, you’re here for what?
A few beats of confused/excited again silence followed as nearly every neck in the courtroom craned toward house left. Defense attorney Jay Nanavati began the laughter. Judge Ellis laughed, too. Even the otherwise downcast defendant, Manafort himself, joined in on the fun, as Mr. Trump answered the question.
Of course, that “Mr. Trump” was none other than James “Jim” Trump, an Assistant U.S. Attorney who happened to be there for the next case.
After the moment of levity, everyone went back to waiting on the deliberation process.
[Mark Wilson/Getty Images]