Saturday, 17 November, 2018

Judge orders Paul Manafort moved to suburban Washington jail

Paul Manafort says he's being treated 'like a VIP' in jail Manafort treated as prison ‘VIP’ with his own bathroom, shower, and phone
Jeannette Daniel | 12 July, 2018, 00:36

The 69-year-old political operative, who is detained while awaiting trial on charges of financial crimes, made the comments in monitored prison telephone calls, according to a court filing by the office of Robert Mueller, the special counsel.

In earlier court filings, Mr. Manafort's attorney said the distance of Northern Neck jail - two hours from Washington, D.C. - has made it hard to adequately prepare for trial.

But the new filing reveals a jailhouse phone call recording where Manafort boasts about the special privileges he enjoys as he waits for his scheduled trial to start July 25.

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.

Prosecutors also said Mr. Manafort has access to his own separate workroom to meet with lawyers at the Northern Neck Jail in Warsaw, Virginia.

"On the monitored prison phone calls, Manafort has mentioned that he is being treated like a 'VIP, '" prosecutors quoted him as having said.

"Contrary to Manafort's assertions about his jail conditions, Manafort is in a private unit in which he can review materials and prepare for trial", Mueller's legal team said.

More news: China issues warning for citizens traveling to US

On top of that, Weissmann noted, Manafort has his own room (larger than others), his own phone line, and his own laptop, with an extension cord that lets him work from his bedroom instead of his private work space.

Last week, Manafort's lawyers complained that he has to spend 23 hours in solitary confinement in the unit. "When the team takes the laptop from the jail, it reconnects to the internet and Manafort's emails are transmitted".

The special counsel's lawyers reported that the jail in Warsaw doesn't allow prisoners to send emails but that Manafort "appears to have developed a workaround" by reading and drafting messages on a second laptop that's brought in and out of the jail by his legal team.

Manafort is charged with bank and tax fraud in eastern Virginia and is separately charged in Washington with counts including money laundering and failing to register as a foreign agent.

Manafort has also argued that his trial should be moved from Alexandria to Roanoke, where jurors are more likely to support the president, his attorneys told the court.

Prosecutors have not yet responded to that motion, but in Wednesday's filing they question why Manafort did not file a similar request in D.C., "a venue that presumably Manafort views as akin to the Alexandria venue he seeks to avoid".

Updated at 2:05 p.m.

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