Published: Thu, July 12, 2018
People | By Neil Grant

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

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

Prosecutors filed a motion Wednesday opposing a continuance requested by Manafort's attorneys, one day after defense lawyers unexpectedly asked the court to keep their client at the Virginia jail where he's now being held, reported NPR.

A federal judge in Alexandria has ordered Paul Manafort to be moved to the city jail, although Manafort has asked to stay in a Northern Neck facility where prosecutors say he is receiving special treatment.

On the monitored prison phone calls, Manafort has mentioned that he is being treated like a "VIP'". "When the team takes the laptop from the jail, it reconnects to the internet and Manafort's emails are transmitted", the filing stated.

Manafort had filed to delay one of his two scheduled trials, claiming that his incarceration at Virginia's Northern Neck Regional Jail over alleged witness tampering left him without adequate time to prepare for trial. While Manafort's lawyers days ago said that he was in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day because the jail couldn't guarantee his safety, the government's portrayal suggested his circumstances are much less grim, a fact that Manafort himself tacitly admitted, when he said in a monitored conversation that he was being treated like a "VIP".

Manafort, who was assigned an extra-large cell, also has access to a separate workroom at the jail to meet with his attorneys from 8:30 a.m.to 10:00 p.m., and visitor logs from the prison show that each week Manafort has had multiple visits with his legal team, according to Mueller's filing. They also say he has his own workspace and has had more than 100 phone calls with lawyers in the last three weeks.

In their court filing Wednesday, prosecutors sought to pick apart Manafort's arguments that he needs to delay the trial because of his jail conditions.

In a recent phone call they say he explained in vague terms why he wanted to go to trial first in D.C. federal court, where he faces related charges in a trial set for September. "There is a strategy to it, even in failure, but there's a hope in it".

Ellis denied Manafort's request to reverse the order in a court document posted Wednesday. Mr. Manafort's attorneys have sought to push back his trial until fall, alleging his incarceration has made it hard to communicate.

Ellis, the judge in the Virginia case, has directed lawyers for both sides to appear on July 17, to argue about whether the case should be delayed or moved.

"It is surprising and confusing when counsel identifies a problem and then opposes the most logical solution to that problem", Ellis wrote.

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