To ensure his safety, Paul Manafort is being held in solitary confinement at a Virginia jail for “at least 23 hours a day,” his attorneys claimed in Thursday court filings appealing his pretrial detention.
The attorneys argued that Manafort’s confinement at Warsaw, Virginia’s Northern Neck Regional Jail made it “effectively impossible” for him to prepare for his two separate upcoming criminal trials.
The former Trump campaign chairman’s bail was revoked in mid-June after he allegedly engaged in witness tampering while confined to house arrest. Manafort allegedly attempted to communicate with former business partners who helped coordinate his shady lobbying work in the Ukraine. A federal grand jury in Washington, D.C., convened by special counsel Robert Mueller, subsequently indicted Manafort for the alleged witness tampering. He already faced charges including failure to disclose foreign lobbying, money laundering, bank fraud and tax fraud.
Manafort has pleaded not guilty on all counts.
Washington D.C. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson said she could think of no other alternative than jail to ensure that Manafort would not commit crimes while awaiting trial.
Appealing that ruling in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, Manafort’s lawyers said that Mueller’s team failed to provide sufficient evidence that their client engaged in obstruction of justice. His communications with his former business partners, they said, “were extremely limited.”
In its own Thursday filing, Mueller’s team opposed Manafort’s request for the “extraordinary relief” he seeks. Prosecutors noted that both they and the district court have “taken steps to minimize the impact” on Manafort’s trial preparation, offering to work with his attorneys on requests to house him in a more accessible facility. Mueller also said these difficulties were common to all “defendants incarcerated pending trial.”
Prosecutors also rejected the argument that they did not adequately prove that Manafort was improperly contacting potential witnesses.
Manafort’s trial in the DC case is set to begin Sept. 17. His separate case in the Eastern District of Virginia on charges including bank fraud and filing false tax returns is scheduled for trial on July 25.