Ex-Trump campaign chief Manafort seeks to move second trial out of Washington




 

By Nathan Layne

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Lawyers for former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort said on Tuesday that they would seek to move his second trial, scheduled to start next month, out of Washington, D.C., due to concerns that a jury from the Democratic stronghold would be biased.

Their request for a change of venue highlighted the extent to which politics has coursed through the prosecution of Manafort, who U.S. President Donald Trump defended as a "brave man" even after a jury convicted him of tax and bank fraud in the first trial that ended last week.

Manafort, who sought unsuccessfully to move the first trial away from the Washington suburb of Alexandria, Virginia, is hoping for better luck with Judge Amy Berman Jackson, who is presiding over the second case in a federal court in Washington.

Jackson said she would entertain the motion but said she believed he could get a fair trial in her court.

"This jurisdiction has had very high profile cases before," Jackson said at a hearing on Tuesday. "I'd like to believe that is still possible."

Manafort, a longtime Washington lobbyist and consultant, faces seven criminal counts in the upcoming trial, including allegations of money laundering, obstruction of justice and failing to register as a foreign agent for his work on behalf of pro-Russian politicians from Ukraine.

Change of venue requests are rarely approved, according to two jury consultants interviewed by Reuters.

In denying Manafort's motion to move the first trial to Roanoke, Virginia, the judge rejected the notion that a jury pool from Alexandria, which voted two-to-one for Hillary Clinton in 2016, would be biased against associates of Trump.

The political tilt is more pronounced in Washington, which Clinton won with 90 percent of the vote.

Leslie Ellis, a director at jury consulting firm DecisionQuest, saw a bigger risk for Manafort in the probability that jurors from the capital would be knowledgeable about lobbying, tax law and other issues central to the case.

"Having case-relevant experience tends to be riskier for defendants because it is easier for someone with some knowledge of a field to hold a defendant to a higher standard than is appropriate or necessary," Ellis said.

JURY SELECTION SET FOR SEPT. 17

Manafort's trials are the first to arise out of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 election, although Mueller has secured a number of indictments, guilty pleas and immunity deals.

Berman said jury selection for the second trial would start on Sept. 17 and set opening statements for Sept. 24, a scheduling tweak she said was aimed in part at appeasing Manafort's lawyers who had requested a week delay in the trial's start date of Sept. 17.

The move came after an earlier bench conference in which Kevin Downing, one of Manafort's lawyers, could be heard complaining to the judge about the time pressure they were under. The conference was supposed to be inaudible to attendees in the courtroom due to a white-noise machine.

"We don't have the resources," Downing said. "We just finished a trial last week."

Also on Tuesday, Jackson approved the prosecution's request to allow evidence about Justice Department inspections in the 1980's that found Manafort had failed to disclose lobbying activities for foreign governments, one way the government planned to show that Manafort knowingly broke the law.

But Jackson said she would limit what they could show and asked both sides to agree on a stipulation that would tell the jury how Manafort was notified about lobbying disclosure rules in the past in a way that would not prejudice the jury.

(Reporting by Nathan Layne in Washington; Editing by Bill Trott, Toni Reinhold)

COMMENTS

More Related News

AP-NORC Poll: Just 1 in 4 thinks Kavanaugh told entire truth
AP-NORC Poll: Just 1 in 4 thinks Kavanaugh told entire truth

Just 1 in 4 people thinks Brett Kavanaugh was completely honest when he heatedly rebuffed charges of sexual assault and heavy drinking during his Supreme Court confirmation hearing, and Republicans and Democrats hold starkly divergent views of whether his sworn testimony to senators was credible, a poll

Pressure turns to Mexico as migrant caravan heads for border
Pressure turns to Mexico as migrant caravan heads for border
  • World
  • 2018-10-18 23:41:59Z

GUATEMALA CITY (AP) - As some 3,000 Hondurans made their way through Guatemala, attention turned to Mexico, after U.S. President Donald Trump threatened Thursday to close the U.S.-Mexico border if authorities there fail to stop them - a nearly unthinkable move that would disrupt hundreds of thousands

Kelly, Bolton Get in Profane Shouting Match Outside the Oval Office
Kelly, Bolton Get in Profane Shouting Match Outside the Oval Office

The chief of staff, John Kelly, and the national security adviser, John Bolton, fought over immigration and border crossings, including the performance of the Homeland Security Department under Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, one person familiar with the matter said.

Trump Threatens To Order Military To 'Close Our Southern Border' Over Immigration
Trump Threatens To Order Military To 'Close Our Southern Border' Over Immigration

President Donald Trump on Thursday threatened to shut the U.S.-Mexico border,

Trailing in polls, O
Trailing in polls, O'Rourke lays into Cruz in Texas debate

SAN ANTONIO (AP) - Democrat Beto O'Rourke abandoned his usual message of unity and optimism and laid into Ted Cruz, hoping to reverse polls that show him fading against the Republican incumbent during the second debate of a Texas Senate race that has become one of the nation's most closely watched

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Cancel reply

Comments

Top News: Latin America

facebook
Hit "Like"
Don't miss any important news
Thanks, you don't need to show me this anymore.