A federal judge on Tuesday ordered U.S. Marshals to move Paul Manafort from his rural Virginia jail to a detention facility in Alexandria, Va., in the Washington metro area, where the former Trump campaign chairman faces two trials – one set to begin later this month and the second in September.
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But within hours of the judge’s order, attorneys for Manafort asked that their client remain at Northern Neck, citing “his safety,” among other things, even though they had complained his detention there was hurting his defense.
“In light of Mr. Manafort’s continuing detention and after further reflection, issues of distance and inconvenience must yield to concerns about his safety and, more importantly, the challenges he will face in adjusting to a new place of confinement and the changing circumstances of detention two weeks before trial,” Manafort’s team wrote to the judge in the case.
Judge T.S. Ellis, who is presiding over Manafort’s trial in Virginia beginning in two weeks, had ordered that Manafort should be moved closer to the city “to ensure that defendant has access to his counsel and can adequately prepare his defense.”
Manafort has been held at the Northern Neck Regional Jail in Warsaw, Va., since another federal judge presiding over his case in Washington, D.C., revoked his bail last month. Prosecutors with the special counsel asked the judge to jail Manafort after learning that he had attempted to contact potential government witnesses in the days after Mueller brought a superseding indictment against him.
Last week, attorneys for Manafort asked the court to delay Manafort’s trial, claiming their client’s detention at the rural facility put an unfair burden on pretrial preparations and specifically citing the distance – more than 100 miles – from Warsaw to Washington, D.C. Manafort also cited the lengthy commute in waiving his right to appear at pretrial hearings.
Mueller’s special counsel team has hit Manafort with three superseding indictments in two federal courts – Washington, D.C., and Virginia – amounting to more than 40 charges related to money laundering, tax and bank fraud, conspiracy, and other financial crimes that largely predate his time on the Trump campaign. Manafort has pleaded not guilty to all charges.
Manafort’s previous bail agreement had allowed him to remain at his tony Alexandria, Va., condo with a GPS ankle monitor.
During his time at Northern Neck jail, ABC News reported that Manafort stayed in a cell by himself in the facility’s VIP section, surrounded by walls painted in two shades of brown: bagel and biscuit.
Manafort received three meals a day in his approximately 14×14 foot VIP section cell, which came equipped with a toilet, a shower, a place to sit, a small table, a TV with basic cable, and a phone to make outgoing collect calls.
Judge Ellis ordered U.S. Marshals to move Manafort “promptly,” though no specific timeline for the move was immediately known.
Manafort’s trial in Washington, D.C. is set to kick off in September.
ABC News’ Jack date contributed reporting