Published: Sat, July 14, 2018
Worldwide | By Victor Meyer

Mueller Court Doc Says Manafort Is Getting 'VIP' Treatment In Jail

Mueller Court Doc Says Manafort Is Getting 'VIP' Treatment In Jail

A three-judge U.S. Court of Appeals panel in Washington on Thursday denied the former Trump campaign chairman's bid for freedom, saying he'd not shown them that his request should be granted before they rule on his underlying challenge.

Hoping to delay his trial in Virginia on charges of bank fraud and money laundering, Paul Manafort instead managed this week to get himself transferred from a jail where prosecutors said he described his treatment as "VIP" to one where his lawyers claim he is anxious about his safety.

Earlier this week, the judge had ordered that Manafort be moved from the Northern Neck jail, more than 100 miles away from his lawyers, to the Alexandria Detention Center near the courthouse.

"It is surprising and confusing when counsel identifies a problem and then opposes the most logical solution to that problem", Ellis wrote.

The Alexandria jail is "very familiar with housing high-profile defendants including foreign and domestic terrorists, spies and traitors", Ellis wrote, denying Manafort's request to leave him in place, about a two-hour drive from his lawyers.

"Armed with personal conversations between Mr. Manafort and his family, the special counsel selects snippets to support its version of events", Manafort's lawyers said.

Judge T.S. Ellis of the U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Virginia, who has been assigned the case, fashioned a remedy.

Manafort lawyer Jay Nanavati responded with his own court filing late Wednesday. "There is a strategy to it, even in failure, but there's a hope in it".

Moreover, they pointed out that Manafort told someone in a separate phone call on July 4 that he is able to consult his lawyers everyday, and that he has "all my files like I would at home". Manafort allegedly tried to make at least three phone calls and send at least two encrypted text messages to a potential witness "in an effort to secure materially false testimony..." the special counsel claimed.

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Prosecutors also say Manafort is not required to wear a uniform, has access to a personal telephone and laptop, and has been heard on monitored phone calls comparing his treatment to that of a "VIP".

"In order to exchange emails, he reads and composes emails on a second laptop that is shuttled in and out of the facility by his team".

"Think about how it'll play elsewhere", Manafort said in a recorded phone call from jail cited by prosecutors.

Ellis concluded that Manafort's ability to prepare for trial "trumps his personal comfort".

Prosecutors working for the special counsel in the Russian Federation inquiry, Robert Mueller, suggested to Ellis this week that Manafort was trying to delay the Virginia case so that he would face the charges in Washington first. He has not reached out, they said in court filings.

Prosecutors said most of the documents handed over recently are from Manafort's own bookkeeping service and are not unfamiliar to him.

"Review of that material can be accomplished well in advance of the July 25 trial date and does not warrant a months-long adjournment", the government filings said. Besides the charges of financial fraud in Virginia, he faces charges in Washington, including violating federal lobbying laws.

Hull said that when jail officials learned Manafort was communicating by email, his attorneys were told to stop the practice.

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