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Prosecutors Object To Manafort Bid To Delay Trial, Saying He Is Treated Like A 'VIP'


Prosecutors say Paul Manafort gets special treatment during his pretrial confinement and there is no reason to delay the case against him.

Prosecutors say Paul Manafort gets special treatment during his pretrial confinement and there is no reason to delay the case against him.

AFP/Getty Images, Brendan Smialowski

The team prosecuting Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman has a message for Paul Manafort: no more excuses.

Lawyers working for special counsel Robert Mueller objected Wednesday to Manafort’s bid to delay the trial scheduled for July 25 in Alexandria, Va. To make their case, they cited recorded jail calls and prison logs suggesting Manafort is getting treated better than most detainees, not worse.

“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 workspace to prepare for trial,” the prosecutors wrote.

In monitored phone calls at the Northern Neck Regional Jail in Warsaw, Va., Manafort has told others he is being treated like a “VIP,” the government team added.

Manafort has been held there since June 15, when a judge in Washington, D.C., ordered him detained, partly because of new charges that he had attempted to tamper with witnesses.

The back-and-forth matters because Manafort has cited restrictive conditions of his pretrial detention as a reason to postpone his case on bank and tax fraud charges until at least the autumn. Manafort’s lawyers said he had “very limited access to his attorneys and the records.”

But the special counsel’s team reported on Wednesday that Manafort told an unnamed person by phone that “I’ve gone through all the discovery now,” only days before his lawyers filed a motion to continue the case. Prosecutors also told Judge T.S. Ellis III that Manafort has had multiple visits with his legal team each week.

Government lawyers reported Manafort had over 100 phone calls with his attorneys in the past three weeks. They made clear they were not monitoring what was discussed in his calls with lawyers, but rather relying on a prison telephone log to note simply that the calls were taking place.

The special counsel’s lawyers reported that the jail in Warsaw doesn’t allow prisoners to send emails but that Manafort “appears to have developed a workaround” by reading and drafting messages on a second laptop that’s brought in and out of the jail by his legal team.

“When the team takes the laptop from the jail, it reconnects to the internet and Manafort’s emails are transmitted,” they wrote.

Judge Ellis has directed lawyers for both sides to appear Tuesday, July 17, to argue about whether the case should be delayed or moved.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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