Judge rejects Manafort's bid to move trial further from DC

Clay Curtis
July 21, 2018

A federal judge in Virginia on Tuesday denied a motion by former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort to move a trial set to start next week from the Washington suburb of Alexandria to the city of Roanoke, Virginia.

Prosecutors did not identify the witnesses and said they had not been publicly identified with the case.

The trial, where Manafort is facing charges brought by special counsel Robert Mueller of tax fraud and bank fraud, is scheduled to begin in Alexandria next week.

If granted, that means the witnesses' testimony couldn't be used against them in later court cases.

"Disclosing the motions would reveal those individuals' involvement in the investigation and the trial, thereby creating the risk of their undue harassment", prosecutors said.

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The immunity request also asked that the identity of the potential witnesses be kept under seal.

The trial is one of two at which Manafort must defend himself against a number of charges ranging from bank fraud to failing to register as a foreign agent for lobbying work for pro-Russia politicians in Ukraine.

Manafort's lawyers sought to move his upcoming trial from Alexandria - which is a politically left-leaning part of the Washington, D.C., area - to Roanoke - which is in the more conservative southern part of the state. Those people may be called on to testify during Paul Manafort's trial. "Jurors' political leanings are not, by themselves, evidence that those jurors can not fairly and impartially consider the evidence", he wrote.

Manafort is now being held in Alexandria ahead of next week's case. It is the first arising from the investigation of special counsel Robert Mueller, who is examining potential coordination between Russian Federation and the Trump campaign.

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