Manafort Says He's Treated Like 'VIP' with Prison Privileges, Says Mueller Filing
WASHINGTON -- Special counsel Robert Mueller opposed former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort's motion to delay his trial in the Eastern District of Virginia until after his Washington, D.C., trial, arguing in a new filing that Manafort doesn't need more time to review documents that came from his own office.
Manafort was originally supposed to go to trial in Virginia on July 10. That was delayed until July 25 to allow the defense additional time to prepare. Now, Manafort's team wants the trial delayed by months and moved from the Beltway to Roanoke, Va., arguing there are too many Hillary Clinton voters in Alexandria, Va., to put together an impartial jury.
U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III, who ordered that Mueller be moved from a prison about 100 miles away from D.C. to Alexandria to have closer contact with his legal team, gave Mueller's team until Friday to respond.
Mueller's reply filed in court today noted that "the defense has not brought a single issue to the government’s attention, until it received this motion seeking to use his alleged prison conditions as a basis for an adjournment."
Manafort was sent to jail June 15 as a judge agreed there was no way to restrain the lobbyist from alleged witness tampering if he remained on the outside.
A federal grand jury in the District of Columbia returned the third superseding indictment against Manafort and Konstantin Kilimnik of Moscow, adding obstruction of justice charges alleging they "knowingly and intentionally attempted to corruptly persuade" two people associated with Manafort's lobbying operation "with intent to influence, delay, and prevent the testimony of any person in an official proceeding."
Manafort's attorneys argued that his "innocuous" contacts with witnesses was twisted into a “sinister plot” of witness tampering by prosecutors.
Mueller argued today that the revocation of Manafort's bail has not been "unduly interfering with his ability to prepare for trial," especially as his living circumstances are "in various ways less restrictive" than for other inmates.
"In fact, Manafort has reported, in a taped prison call, that he has reviewed all discovery: Just days before filing his motion for a continuance, Manafort told the person on the call that, 'I’ve gone through all the discovery now.' And he has had extensive access to his counsel and materials: On July 4, 2018, Manafort remarked in a taped prison call that he is able to visit with his lawyers every day, and that he has 'all my files like I would at home,'" continues the court filing.
Mueller added that "contrary to Manafort’s assertions about his jail conditions," Manafort is not confined to a cell, has a private unit with access to a workroom each morning, and has had regular visits from his attorneys. He has his own phone and bathroom, and doesn't have to wear a prison jumpsuit. Manafort was heard on a monitored prison phone call saying he was being treated "like a VIP," the filing adds; calls not with his attorneys are subject to monitoring.