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story.lead_photo.caption Paul Manafort, former campaign manager for Donald Trump, is shown in this April file photo.

WASHINGTON -- 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.

Judge T.S. Ellis wrote in a filing published Wednesday that Manafort's "access to counsel and his ability to prepare for trial trumps his personal comfort."

Manafort, the former campaign manager for President Donald Trump, had asked for his July 25 trial on bank and tax-fraud charges to be delayed in large part because it was difficult to prepare while incarcerated 100 miles away at a regional jail in Warsaw, Va. But on Tuesday, Manafort resisted being moved to Alexandria, arguing that while the city jail would be more convenient, he did not want to adjust to new circumstances so close to trial.

"It is surprising and confusing when counsel identifies a problem and then opposes the most logical solution to that problem," Ellis wrote. "The dissonance between defendant's motion to continue and motion opposing transfer to the Alexandria Detention Center cannot easily be explained or resolved."

Prosecutors said in a court filing Wednesday that Manafort has told people he is being treated like a "VIP" in the Northern Neck lockup, where he has his own phone and computer, writes emails and does not have to wear a uniform. Moreover, attorneys on special counsel Robert Mueller's team say Manafort wants the trial delayed only for strategic reasons.

In a recent phone call, they say, he explained in vague terms why he wanted to go to trial first in District of Columbia federal court, where he faces related charges in a trial set for September.

"Think about how it'll play elsewhere," Manafort said, according to the court filing. "There is a strategy to it, even in failure, but there's a hope in it."

In recent phone calls, they say, Manafort also has said he has "all my files like I would at home" and has "gone through all the discovery now."

Manafort speaks to his attorneys every day and often multiple times a day, they said. While the calls are limited to 15 minutes, there is no limit on how many calls he can make.

"Among the unique privileges Manafort enjoys at the jail are a private, self-contained living unit, which is larger than other inmates' units, his own bathroom and shower facility, his own personal telephone, and his own work space to prepare for trial," the prosecutors wrote. "Manafort is also not required to wear a prison uniform." He also has a personal laptop, they say, with an extension cord so he can use it in his unit and not just the workroom.

Manafort has even "developed a workaround" to send emails, which prisoners normally would not be allowed to do, according to prosecutors.

"In order to exchange emails, he reads and composes emails on a second laptop that is shuttled in and out of the facility by his team. When the team takes the laptop from the jail, it re-connects to the Internet and Manafort's emails are transmitted," prosecutors said.

Manafort filed a motion last week asking for his trial to be delayed until this fall, saying it was impossible to fully prepare because of distance and limited electronic and phone access.

In a Washington, D.C., court filing in which he described his jailing, Manafort had said he is kept in solitary confinement 23 hours a day.

That filing came as Manafort appealed the ruling last month that sent him to jail. A federal judge ended Manafort's home detention and ordered him jailed after his indictment on attempted witness tampering while awaiting trial.

Prosecutors said that at the time Manafort was jailed June 15 and at multiple times since, they have offered to help if there are any issues with the jail location or conditions. He has not reached out, they said in court filings.

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.

Prosecutors said most of the documents handed over recently are from Manafort's own bookkeeping service and are not unfamiliar to him.

They also recently provided Manafort with 8,290 documents from the computer of his former business partner, Rick Gates, who has pleaded guilty and is cooperating with the prosecution.

"Review of that material can be accomplished well in advance of the July 25 trial date and does not warrant a months-long adjournment," the government filings said.

Prosecutors also said Manafort knew his refusal to let the Virginia bank and tax-fraud charges be combined with the D.C. case would likely lead to this schedule.

"Manafort can hardly now complain about the order of the trials," the special counsel's attorneys said.

His trial in the District of Columbia involves federal conspiracy and money-laundering charges and the witness tampering charge.

A Section on 07/12/2018

Print Headline: Judge moves Manafort to new jail closer to trial site

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