Special Counsel Argues Manafort Should Not Be Released from Jail Before Trial

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s team argued Thursday against a request from lawyers for former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort for his release prior to his trial, urging a federal appeals court to reject the request.

Manafort’s lawyers are asking for his release on bail so that he could prepare better for his two upcoming trials, but Mueller argued that was not necessary. Manafort was arrested last month over charges that he tried to influence witnesses’ testimonies in the cases against him, Politico reports.

Prosecutors urged the judges to reject Manafort’s argument that the witness tampering allegations were less worrisome than in some other cases because no threat of force was involved.

“That argument vastly understates the seriousness of the conduct that prompted Manafort’s detention,” the special counsel’s lawyers wrote, adding that such conduct is as damaging when done through covert corrupt persuasion as when it is conducted “through overt violence.”

A panel of appellate judges in Washington, DC, is weighing whether Manafort should be released as he awaits trial. He was on house arrest from October 2017 until the middle of June when his bail was revoked. But Manafort argued last week he couldn’t prepare for his trials while in a jail about two hours away from Washington.

“Those limitations are common to defendants incarcerated pending trial, and Manafort has not taken any steps to bring specific problems to the attention of the district court or the government,” Mueller’s team wrote Thursday.

“The district court has taken steps to minimize the impact on Manafort’s ability to prepare for his upcoming trials; the government has offered to do the same; and Manafort has not sought any relief from the district court or the government, including the Bureau of Prisons, with respect to any confinement conditions.”

Manafort’s first of two federal criminal trials starts in three weeks.

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