Judge Denies Manafort Request To Suppress Storage Unit Evidence

Matt Rourke/AP

Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort’s request for the suppression of evidence obtained in a search of his storage unit in Virginia last year was denied by a federal judge in Washington, D.C. Thursday.

Manafort had tried to challenge the search on the grounds that the employee that allowed an FBI investigator into the storage unit in May 2017 was no longer working for Manafort’s international consulting firm that did the Ukraine lobbying work that is central to the case. The agent entered the unit, having been let in by the employee, on May 26, and observed the types of containers in the unit and their labels. The government then successfully sought a search warrant the next day, and seized various materials in the unit.

U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson rejected Manafort’s argument that the May 26 search was illegal without a warrant.

Jackson pointed to the fact that employees name was listed on the lease of the storage, that Manafort had given him a key to it, and that the employee gave the investigator written consent to access the unit.

Manafort also had suggested that the fact that the government then sought a warrant after the agent’s initial look in the unit showed that that search was flawed. Jackson disagreed, calling that logic a “mischaracterization of the circumstances.”

Jackson additionally rejected Manafort’s argument that the search warrant later obtained was too broad since it did not place a temporal limits on the documents.

“And even if this Court were to conclude that the warrant could or should … have been more tightly drawn, the agents relied in good faith on a warrant that had been reviewed and signed by a United States Magistrate Judge, and therefore, the evidence seized during the execution of the warrant should not, and will not, be excluded,” she said.

Manafort, so far, has had limited success in the pretrial motions he has filed as part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s case against him in D.C. Last Friday, he was sent to jail pending trial after allegations and charges that he engaged in witness tampering.

Manafort is facing charges of money laundering and failure to disclose foreign lobbying in D.C., as well as bank fraud and tax fraud charges bought in a separate case in Virginia.

He has pleaded not guilty in both cases.

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