Paul Manafort, President Trump’s former campaign manager, will be transferred from his “VIP” cell in Warsaw, Va., to a jail in Alexandria, where he will go to trial on July 25. Manafort faces charges including money laundering, bank fraud, obstruction of justice, and failing to register foreign lobbying work.
Judge T.S. Ellis, overseeing the Alexandria case, ordered Manafort’s transfer after the defendant argued that he could not properly prepare for the trial because he was too far away from his lawyers, Reuters reports.
Robert Mueller’s prosecutors, meanwhile, argued that Manafort’s jail in Warsaw had been more than accommodating: he has a personal phone in his cell, which he’s used to make more than 300 phone calls to his lawyers and others within the past three weeks; he’s found a way to work around the jail’s ban on email; and he has his own bathroom, shower, and work space, according to Reuters.
Taped phone calls recorded Manafort saying he was treated like a “VIP,” and had access to “all my files like I would at home,” says Reuters. The prosecution argues Manafort’s lawyers selected conversations “to support its version of events,” but in actuality Manafort has had “unlimited resources” to prepare for the upcoming trial.
Judge Ellis addressed Manafort’s complaints about location by ordering his transfer to an Alexandria prison. Manafort responded by requesting he be allowed to stay in Warsaw, citing safety concerns and “the challenges he will face in adjusting to a new place of confinement” just before trial, Bloomberg reports.
The judge assured that the Alexandria jail was “very familiar with housing high-profile defendants including foreign and domestic terrorists, spies and traitors,” according to the LA Times, adding on Wednesday that, “it is surprising and confusing when counsel identifies a problem and then opposes the most logical solution to that problem.”
A hearing to discuss Manafort’s request for a trial postponement is scheduled for July 17. Here the judge will also consider a request to have the trial moved to another city — Manafort argues he cannot get a fair trial in Alexandria due to the publicity of his case.
Not all of Manafort’s charges will be tried in Alexandria on July 25; he will face trial again in Washington, D.C., on September 17.