On Wednesday, U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III directed that Manafort be moved to the Alexandria Detention Center, where the federal courthouse is located, so that he can be closer to his lawyers.
Manafort has not been seen since a DC federal judge revoked his bail and sent him to the regional jail in Warsaw, Virginia, about two hours from DC, for alleged witness tampering. On Tuesday, he ordered that Manafort be transferred to a jail in Alexandria, about 20 minutes from Washington, "to ensure that defendant has access to his counsel and can adequately prepare his defense".
A judge ordered the transfer after Manafort's lawyers complained it was hard for them and him to prepare for his trial because he was being held in solitary confinement for 23 hours per day in a Warsaw, Virginia, jail located a two-hour drive from his attorneys' Washington office.
Manafort, the former campaign manager for President Donald Trump, had asked for his July 25 trial on bank and tax-fraud charges to be delayed in large part because it was hard to prepare while incarcerated 100 miles away at a regional jail in Warsaw, Va. He told people over a recorded phone line from the jail that he was being treated like a VIP and had reviewed all of the evidence before the trial, prosecutors said. "Manafort is also not required to wear a prison uniform". In the last three weeks, Manafort has had more than 100 phone calls with his attorneys, and another 200 calls with other individuals, according to Wednesday's filing. In Wednesday's filing, they contend that Manafort's living conditions are not only no harsher than those of his fellow inmates but that they are actually substantially more lenient. Manafort is scheduled for trial on July 25 on assorted charges arising from his Ukrainian political work. The "Defendant's access to counsel and his ability to prepare for trial trumps his personal comfort", noted Ellis.
For nearly a month, he has lived in a VIP unit at a rural Virginia regional jail two hours from Washington, where he's retained some conveniences of the outside world.
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The jail houses about 400 inmates, and at least 150 beds are reserved for federal prisoners like Manafort.
But after a judge ordered him moved to Alexandria so he could be closer, Manafort protested, citing safety concerns. And he has had extensive access to his counsel and materials: On July 4, 2018, Manafort remarked in a taped prison call that he is able to visit with his lawyers every day, and that he has "all my files like I would at home". They claimed they needed more time to prepare their defense, and they pointed to the location of Manafort's jail as part of the problem.
"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". But the judges overseeing both cases against Manafort recently struck down those arguments. He has pleaded not guilty in both cases.
Manafort is charged with conspiracy, money laundering, bank fraud, tax crimes, making false statements and acting as an unregistered agent of a foreign principal.
But Manafort's legal team didn't complain until the last minute, the USA said.