WASHINGTON – Federal prosecutors offered some tantalizing reasons Wednesday for what prompted attorneys for former Trump campaign chief Paul Manafort to raise late objections this week to moving their client from a rural Virginia jail cell to the Alexandria Detention Center ahead of his upcoming trial on tax and bank fraud charges.
In court documents, prosecutors working for Russia special counsel Robert Mueller, said Manafort – long accustomed to a life of luxury cars, tailored suits and multiple residences on the outside – has been afforded "unique privileges'' inside the Northern Neck Regional Jail near Richmond, where he has been confined since a federal judge revoked his bail last month.
"Manafort enjoys...a private, self contained living unit, his own bathroom and shower facility, his own personal telephone and his own work-space to prepare for trial," prosecutors wrote in opposition to a defense request to postpone the July 25 trial.
In a series of monitored telephone calls, described by prosecutors in court documents, Manafort also has told associates that he is not required to wear a prison uniform and "has mentioned that he is being treated like a VIP."
Defense attorneys, in part, based their request for a trial delay on a lack of proximity to their client, whose Warsaw, Va., jail cell is located about 100 miles from the site of his upcoming trial in Alexandria. They said the distance made it difficult for Manafort to engage in a timely review of necessary documents in advance of the trial.
But prosecutors, again citing Manafort's monitored telephone conversations and phone logs, said the former campaign aide to President Donald Trump has participated in more than 100 calls with his attorneys and has completed a review of documents provided by the government.
"Telephone logs indicate Manafort has spoken to his attorneys every day, and often multiple times a day," prosecutors said. "Manafort also possess a personal laptop that he is permitted to use in his (jail) unit to review materials and prepare for trial. The jail has made extra accommodations for Manafort's use of the laptop, including providing him an extension cord to ensure the laptop can be used in his unit and not just in the separate workroom."
In a monitored July 4 call to an undisclosed party, according to prosecutors, Manafort said that he had "all my files like I would at home."
Acting on the initial defense request for the trial delay, U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis Wednesday issued an order for Manafort's transfer to Alexandria, dismissing the attorneys' late objection that such a move could pose a risk to their client's safety.
With the move, the judge also strongly hinted that the quality of Manafort's accommodations were about to dramatically change.
"Defense counsel has not identified any general or specific threat to defendant's safety at the Alexandria Detention Center," Ellis wrote Wednesday. "They have not done so, because the professionals at the Alexandria Detention Center are very familiar with housing high-profile defendants, including foreign and domestic terrorists, spies and traitors.
"All of those defendants were housed safely in Alexandria pending their respective trials and defendant's experience...will presumably be no different," he said.