Manafort treated as prison ‘VIP’ with his own bathroom, shower, and phone

Geraldine Edwards
July 12, 2018

Lawyers working for Justice Department special counsel Robert Mueller objected Wednesday to Manafort's bid to delay the trial scheduled for July 25 in Alexandria, Va.

In a separate footnote, prosecutors noted that Manafort has several "VIP" privileges at the prison he's in, including a large, private unit, his own bathroom and shower, his own phone, a personal laptop, and his own workspace to prep for trial.

Manafort - who is facing charges for an assortment of alleged financial crimes, as well as failure to disclose foreign lobbying - has pleaded not guilty in both cases.

Since then, Manafort's lawyers have said they can not properly prepare for trial with a client jailed two hours outside of Washington, D.C.

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Not long after Eastern District of Virginia (EDVA) Judge T.S. Ellis III had some stern words for Paul Manafort's lawyers and ordered the defendant to be transferred to the Alexandria Detention Center, Manafort's team has made a decision to fight back on another front.

Manafort filed a motion last week asking for his trial to be delayed until this fall, because it was impossible to fully prepare due to distance and with limited electronic and phone access. He also has a personal laptop, they say, with an extension cord so he can use it in his unit and not just the workroom. Regarding how he's prepared for trial, prosecutors heard him say on a taped call that he's reviewed all evidence before his trial, met with his lawyers every day and has "all my files like I would at home", the filing says.

The back-and-forth matters because Manafort has cited restrictive conditions of his pretrial detention as a reason to postpone his case on bank and tax fraud charges until at least the autumn. His lawyers had cited concerns about his safety in trying to block the transfer, but U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III didn't buy it.

On Wednesday, Ellis denied Manafort's request and ordered him moved to the Alexandria Detention Center, rejecting the notion that he would not be safe there.

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Manafort's trial in Virginia is expected to begin later this month.

"When the team takes the laptop from the jail, it reconnects to the Internet and Manafort's emails are transmitted", they wrote. Manafort doesn't even have to wear a prison jumpsuit.

Manafort has been held there since June 15, when a judge in Washington, D.C., ordered him detained, partly because of new charges that he had attempted to tamper with witnesses.

"Manafort can hardly now complain about the order of the trials", the special counsel attorneys said.

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Judge Ellis set a July 17 hearing to discuss Manafort's request to continue the Virginia trial and change venues to Richmond, Virginia.

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