Manafort Comapres Jail to VIP Treatment, Prosecutors Say

Paul Manafort says he's being treated 'like a VIP' in jail

One trial is set for July 25 in Alexandria, Virginia, and the second case in Washington, D.C., has a September 17 trial date.

Manafort's prosecution arose out of U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into possible collusion between Russian Federation and Trump's 2016 presidential campaign.

Judge T.S. Ellis, who is overseeing the Alexandria case, ordered a hearing for Tuesday to weigh motions by Manafort to move the first trial to a more Trump-friendly area of Virginia and to postpone it until after the Washington trial was done.

A judge ordered the transfer after Manafort's lawyers complained it was hard for them and him to prepare for his trial because he was being held in solitary confinement for 23 hours per day in a Warsaw, Virginia, jail located a two-hour drive from his attorneys' Washington office.

Officials confirm the former Trump campaign chairman was booked Thursday morning into the Alexandria Detention Center in Virginia, a complex of low-slung brick buildings just off the Capital Beltway and a few blocks from the federal courthouse where he will be tried later this month on bank and tax fraud charges.

Prosecutors also cited taped phone calls from prison in which Manafort remarked that he was being treated like a "VIP" and had access to "all my files like I would at home".

Ellis delivered another piece of bad news for Manafort in a second court order Wednesday.

The prosecutors' descriptions of his jail conditions imply that Manafort has had a far easier living situation than other inmates.

As for listening in on Manafort's phone calls, Nanavati wrote: "Armed with personal conversations between Mr. Manafort and his family, the special counsel selects snippets to support its version of events".

Manafort has had hundreds of phone calls with his lawyers and even more with others and has sent emails through his lawyers to outside contacts, the special counsel's office wrote in the filing.

The filing also claims Manafort is not confined to his cell and has access to a separate workspace in the jail between 8:30 a.m. and 10 p.m.

But after a judge ordered him moved to Alexandria so he could be closer, Manafort protested, citing safety concerns.

Ellis concluded that Manafort's ability to prepare for trial "trumps his personal comfort".

Manafort is scheduled to stand trial on financial crimes starting July 25. Manafort is incarcerated in Virginia, and he recently asked the court to push back the latter trial date, arguing that the circumstances of his incarceration mean he won't be ready for the trial in time.

Manafort also asked to have his Virginia trial delayed on the grounds that he needed more time to review the many documents in the case, which centers on his work for a Russia-aligned political party in Ukraine.

The judge nevertheless said in a June 21 order that Manafort must be given "reasonable opportunity for private consultation with counsel". He has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

"The five previously charged counts against Manfort remain unchanged: conspiracy against the United States, conspiracy to launder money, unregistered agent of a foreign principal, false and misleading FARA [Foreign Agents Registration Act] statements, and false statements", the special counsel's spokesman said last month.

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