WASHINGTON – Paul Manafort first complained that he couldn’t prepare for his July 25 trial in Virginia because he was jailed in solitary confinement too far away from his lawyers. So, the judge ordered him moved closer. But, now Manafort says that will endanger him and he’d rather stay put.
U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III ordered Manafort’s transfer Tuesday to the Alexandria Detention Center from the Northern Neck Regional Jail in Warsaw, which is 85 miles (135 km) away. A judge in Washington had revoked Manafort’s bail June 15 after prosecutors accused him of tampering with witnesses.
But rather than cheering the move, Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman complained later Tuesday in a court filing that a transfer will only complicate his trial preparations. Manafort’s lawyers argued that he’d feel safer where he is now as he gets ready to defend against charges of bank fraud and tax crimes in Alexandria, Virginia.
“Issues of distance and inconvenience must yield to concerns about his safety and, more importantly, the challenges he will face in adjusting to a new place of confinement and the changing circumstances of detention two weeks before trial,” Manafort’s attorneys wrote.
Manafort is appealing his pretrial detention. In earlier court filings, he had complained the distance from his lawyers made it “effectively impossible” to prepare for the trial. Manafort had requested that his Virginia trial take place after a Sept. 17 trial in Washington, where he’s charged with money laundering, obstruction of justice and failing to register as a foreign agent of Ukraine.
Ellis hasn’t ruled on that request, or on Manafort’s bid to move the trial to either Richmond or Roanoke, Virginia. As of late Tuesday, the judge hadn’t responded to Manafort’s unusual request to stay at Northern Neck.
The cases are U.S. v. Manafort, 17-cr-201, U.S. District Court, District of Columbia (Washington), and 18-cr-83, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Virginia (Alexandria).
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