Prosecutors: Manafort says he's treated like 'VIP' in jail

Frederick Owens
July 12, 2018

President Donald Trump's jailed former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, has said in monitored phone calls that he is being treated like a "VIP" while behind bars, federal prosecutors said Wednesday as they argued against postponing his financial crimes trial.

The dueling court filing are part of an ongoing tussle over Manafort's confinement that began after a judge revoked his house arrest last month and ordered him jailed on witness tampering allegations. They added that Manafort did not raise questions about his access to his attorneys or documents to prepare his defense. The unit also has a personal laptop which can be used in both his unit and his separate workroom.

In case you missed it, Manafort's team argued earlier that their client's living conditions in jail were preventing him from adequately preparing for his trial.

Prosecutors said that at the time Manafort was jailed June 15 and at multiple times since, they have offered to help if there were any issues with the jail location or conditions.

While he isn't technically allowed to send or receive emails, Manafort has, according to the special counsel, developed a workaround, revealing on a monitored phone call that "in order to exchange emails, he reads and composes emails on a second laptop that is shuttled in and out of the facility by his team".

They also said Manafort has said in the calls that he is able to visit with his lawyers every day and that he has 'all my files like I would at home'.

Besides those perks, Manafort also has his own bathroom and shower, and he doesn't have to wear a prison uniform.

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Judge T.S. Ellis gave the special counsel prosecuting Manafort until Friday to respond to those motions.

"When the team takes the laptop from the jail, it reconnects to the Internet and Manafort's emails are transmitted", they wrote. Manafort denies all the charges. He has pleaded not guilty.

"Review of that material can be accomplished well in advance of the July 25 trial date and does not warrant a months-long adjournment", the government filings said.

The developments came as Manafort gets closer to two trials where he will 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.

But Mueller's office appeared to throw cold water on several of Manafort's arguments in Wednesday's filing opposing Manafort's request. He instructed the U.S. Marshals Service to move Manafort to Alexandria, as he initially planned.

Ellis has not ruled on the Virginia continuance or the change of venue.

Updated at 2:05 p.m.

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