A federal judge ordered on Tuesday that former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort be moved from his rural jail in Virginia to the Washington metro area where he is to face two trials – one later this month and the second in September.
However, only hours after the judge’s order, Manafort’s lawyers asked that he remain at Northern Neck providing “his safety” as the reason for their request, even though they had previously complained his detention there was hurting his defense.
“In light of Mr. Manafort’s continuing detention and after further reflection, issues of distance and inconvenience must yield to concerns about his safety and, more importantly, the challenges he will face in adjusting to a new place of confinement and the changing circumstances of detention two weeks before trial,” the team of attorneys for Manafort wrote to Judge T.S. Ellis, who is presiding over his trial in Virginia.
Ellis had previously ordered U.S. Marshals to “promptly” move Manafort closer to the city “to ensure that defendant has access to his counsel and can adequately prepare his defense,” though no specific timeline for the move was immediately known.
Last month, special counsel Robert Mueller’s prosecutors asked the judge to jail Manafort after they found out he had attempted to tamper with potential government witnesses in the days after the special counsel brought a superseding indictment against him. Since then, Manafort has been held at the North Neck Regional Jail in Virginia.
Mueller’s team has hit Manafort with three superseding indictments amounting to over 40 charges related to money laundering, tax and bank fraud, as well as conspiracy while serving as campaign manager for the Trump campaign. Manafort has pleaded not guilty to all charges.