- 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 defence.
- The special counsel Robert Mueller, who charged Manafort in both cases, threw cold water on Manafort’s argument in a new court filing Wednesday.
- The document said Manafort enjoys “VIP” privileges at the prison he’s incarcerated in, has had over 100 phone calls with his lawyers, and is able to write and receive emails, among other things.
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The special counsel Robert Mueller’s office used Paul Manafort’s own words against him in a new court filing Wednesday.
Manafort is the former chairman of President Donald Trump’s campaign. He is a defendant in two criminal cases from Mueller’s office, which is investigating Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election. Manafort stands charged with over two dozen counts related to his lobbying work in Ukraine, including tax and bank fraud, obstruction of justice, conspiracy, failure to register as a foreign agent, and making false statements.
One of the two indictments against Manafort is in Washington, DC, and the other is in Virginia. The DC trial is scheduled for September 17, and the Virginia trial is set for 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. But Mueller’s office appeared to throw cold water on several of Manafort’s arguments in Wednesday’s filing opposing Manafort’s request.
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.” They added that Manafort did not raise questions about his access to his attorneys or documents to prepare his defence.
Prosecutors also said they were in touch with Manafort’s lawyers as recently as last week to ask if he had any concerns about being incarcerated, and said he had not raised any issues until now.
“Manafort should not be permitted to obtain a two- or three-month continuance based on circumstances he has never challenged or sought relief from, in spite of repeated invitations to do so,” prosecutors wrote.
Manafort also claimed in his motion that he has “very limited access to his attorneys and the records” needed to prepare his case.
But prosecutors wrote that in a taped phone call from prison, Manafort told the person on the other end, “I’ve gone through all the discovery now.”
Moreover, they pointed out that Manafort told someone in a separate phone call on July 4 that he is able to consult his lawyers everyday, and that he has “all my files like I would at home.” Visitor and phone logs also indicate that Manafort meets with his legal team multiple times a week, has had over 100 phone calls with them since being incarcerated, and another 200 calls with other individuals, the filing said.
In a separate footnote, prosecutors noted that Manafort has several “VIP” privileges at the prison he’s in, including a large, private unit, his own bathroom and shower, his own phone, a personal laptop, and his own workspace to prep for trial.
Prosecutors also say that Manafort is working around prison restrictions on sending and receiving emails. According to the filing, Manafort reads and writes emails on a second laptop that his team brings in and out of the prison. When his lawyers leave the facility, they reconnect it to the internet and Manafort’s emails are sent.
Manafort has mounted an aggressive defence against the special counsel, arguing that Mueller’s mandate was too broad and that he was not authorised to charge Manafort with crimes unrelated to Russian collusion. But the judges overseeing both cases against Manafort recently struck down those arguments.
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