Special counsel offers immunity to five witnesses for Paul Manafort trial

Frederick Owens
July 19, 2018

A federal judge on Wednesday denied a request by President Donald Trump's former campaign manager Paul Manafort to suppress evidence seized by the FBI from his home as part of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's ongoing probe into whether Trump's 2016 presidential campaign colluded with Russian Federation.

On Tuesday Mueller asked a federal judge to grant immunity to five potential witnesses against Manafort, who have yet to be publicly identified in connection with the case. Prosecutors said the witnesses have indicated they won't testify "on the basis of their privilege against self-incrimination".

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 undue harassment", prosecutors wrote.

Prosecutors also want motions for each witness to remain sealed until they testify.

The indictment says Manafort and business associate Rick Gates passed money they received from Ukraine through foreign bank accounts to hide it from the Internal Revenue Service.

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"Although there has been extensive press coverage of defendant's pretrial proceedings, that coverage has not disrupted the "judicial serenity and calm" to which the defendant is entitled", Ellis said Tuesday.

A handout photo made available by the Alexandria Virginia Sheriff's Office shows former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort mug shot, Alexandria, Virginia, USA (issued 12 July 2018).

"Therefore, the proximity of defendant's pre-trial publicity to the start of his trial will be the same in Alexandria as it would be in Roanoke or Kansas City or Dallas".

Manafort is scheduled for trial on financial charges starting next week in Alexandria, Virginia.

He said there was no evidence that potential jurors in the region were politically biased, and that in any event, jurors' political leanings by themselves aren't evidence that they can't fairly consider a case.

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