Judge denies Manafort request to stay at rural jail
Mark Wilson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — A federal judge on Wednesday denied Paul Manafort’s request to remain at his rural Virginia jail, ordering U.S. Marshals to move the former Trump campaign manager to a detention facility in Alexandria, Va.
Judge T.S. Ellis, who is presiding over Manafort’s trial in Virginia beginning in two weeks, initially ordered on Tuesday that Manafort should be moved closer to the Washington, D.C., area “to ensure that defendant has access to his counsel and can adequately prepare his defense.”
But within hours of the judge’s order, attorneys for Manafort asked that their client remain at Northern Neck, citing “his safety,” among other things, even though they had complained his detention there was hurting his defense.
Last week, attorneys for Manafort asked the court to delay Manafort’s trial, claiming their client’s detention at the rural facility put an unfair burden on pretrial preparations and specifically cited the distance – more than 100 miles – from Warsaw to Washington, D.C.
On Wednesday, Ellis denied Manafort’s request, and for the second time in as many days ordered him to be moved.
“It is surprising and confusing when the counsel identifies a problem and then opposes the most logical solution to that problem,” Ellis wrote Wednesday, adding, “Defense counsel has not identified any general or specific threat to defendant’s safety at the Alexandria Detention Center.”
Manafort has been held at the Northern Neck Regional Jail in Warsaw, Va., since another federal judge, presiding over his case in Washington, D.C., revoked his bail last month. Prosecutors with the special counsel asked the judge to jail Manafort after learning that he had attempted to contact potential government witnesses in the days after Mueller brought a superseding indictment against him.
Mueller’s special counsel team has hit Manafort with three superseding indictments in two federal courts – Washington, D.C., and Virginia – amounting to more than 40 charges related to money laundering, tax and bank fraud, conspiracy, and other financial crimes that largely predate his time on the Trump campaign. Manafort has pleaded not guilty to all charges.
Manafort’s previous bail agreement had allowed him to remain at his tony Alexandria, Va., condo with a GPS ankle monitor.
During his time at Northern Neck jail, ABC News reported that Manafort stayed in a cell by himself in the facility’s VIP section, surrounded by walls painted in two shades of brown: bagel and biscuit.
Manafort received three meals a day in his approximately 14×14 foot VIP section cell, which came equipped with a toilet, a shower, a place to sit, a small table, a TV with basic cable, and a phone to make outgoing collect calls.
Judge Ellis ordered U.S. Marshals to move Manafort “promptly,” though no specific timeline for the move was immediately known.
Manafort’s trial in Washington, D.C. is set to kick off in September.
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