A federal judge in Alexandria, Va., has ordered Paul Manafort to be moved to the city jail, though Manafort has asked to stay in a rural facility where prosecutors say he is receiving special treatment.
With the former Trump campaign chief's trial "looming on the horizon" in Alexandria, Va., U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III ordered Russian Federation special counsel Robert Mueller's prosecution team Tuesday to address both venue and delay requests brought by the former chief of the Trump campaign. In Northern Neck facility, where Manafort was held previously, he had a private phone and computer and did not have to wear a uniform, according to prosecutors. Specifically, Manafort was charged with multiple counts relating to money laundering and bank fraud.
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 defense team also criticized Mueller's apparent use of personnel to monitor Manafort's non-privileged phone calls. Instead, a judge made a decision to move Manafort into more a more traditional jail situation, though he will be kept separate from other inmates for his own safety.
Though Manafort's lawyers have said he spends almost all of his days in solitary confinement, prosecutors described his living arrangements as a "private, self-contained living unit, which is larger than other inmates' units" with its own bathroom and shower.
Far from being restrictive, prosecutors said Manafort had been given a personal telephone in his cell, which he used for more than 300 calls with attorneys and others over the past three weeks, and found a workaround to the jail's ban on email.
Paul Manafort recently filed a motion asking the judge in one of the two criminal cases against him to push back his trial date, arguing that he does not have enough access to his lawyers and documents needed to prepare a defense.
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".
Ellis delivered another piece of bad news for Manafort in a second court order Wednesday. The judge added that Manafort's "access to counsel and his ability to prepare for trial trumps his personal comfort".
In a rebuttal, Manafort's lawyers said the effort put into monitoring their client's phone calls showed that Mueller had "unlimited resources" and accused his office of choosing conversations "to support its version of events". He had asked for a postponement until after a separate trial in Washington, D.C., where he faces similar charges.
Prosecutors noted that US District Judge Amy Berman Jackson, who is overseeing the Washington, DC, case, ordered that Manafort "be afforded reasonable opportunity for private consultation with counsel". "When the team takes the laptop from the jail, it reconnects to the internet and Manafort's emails are transmitted". He has pleaded not guilty in both cases.
Manafort is scheduled to stand trial on financial crimes starting July 25.
"Manafort can hardly now complain about the order of the trials", the special counsel's attorneys said.