Mueller Dunks On Manafort’s Own Words About ‘VIP’ Jail Treatment

Former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort and his wife Kathleen arrive at the Prettyman Federal Courthouse January 16, 2018 in Washington, DC. Manafort and his former business partner Richard Gates both pleaded not guilty last year to a 12-charge indictment that included money laundering and conspiracy.
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images North America

This story has been updated to include a court filing from Paul Manafort responding to special counsel Robert Mueller.

A court document filed by special counsel Robert Mueller Wednesday provides new details about the relatively cushy conditions Paul Manafort is facing in jail, and includes alleged comments Manafort made on monitored phone calls that undermine his lawyers’ request that his trial in Virginia be delayed. The filing was in response to a Manafort request to delay his trial scheduled this month.

Manafort had discussions on monitored phone calls about the “VIP” treatment he was receiving in jail, about the workaround he figured out to circumvent the jail’s ban on inmates sending emails, and about what’s driving his strategy to try to move the trial, contrary to the arguments put forward by his lawyers, according to Mueller.

The judge on Wednesday also scheduled a hearing for July 17 on Manafort’s request that the trial in Virginia case against be pushed back until after a D.C. trial scheduled in September is finished, as well as his request to move the Virginia trial from Alexandria to Roanoke.

Manafort had argued in filings last week that the move by the judge in the D.C. case to put in him jail while he awaits trial — after allegations he engaged in witness tampering — had severely impeded his preparation for the trial in Virginia, which is slated to begin later this month. His filings included the claim that he was being held in solitary confinement 23 hours a day — prompting his supporters and conservative journalists to suggest he was being treated unfairly.

Mueller, on Tuesday, alleged that last week’s delay request was the first time Manafort raised any concerns but how his detention was affecting his ongoing trial prep. The special counsel pointed to a number of details about his current detention — many of those details mentioned by Manafort himself on monitored phone calls — that suggested that the jail was going out of its away to facilitate his trial prep.

A footnote describes his “private, self-contained living unit,” with Manafort himself describing his treatment as “VIP,” according to prosecutors.

The living unit has a personal telephone that Manafort can “use over twelve hours a day to speak with his attorneys,” according to Mueller, and while each phone call is limited to 15 minutes, he can immediately reconnect with his attorneys once each 15 minute session is over.

“Manafort has had successive phone call sessions with his attorneys that have lasted
over forty minutes,” Mueller said, and over the last three weeks, Manafort has had “100 phone calls with his attorneys, and another 200 calls with other persons.”

While detailing the extensive access to phone calls with his attorneys — which are not monitored — Manafort has had, the special counsel also highlighted that Manafort allegedly explained on a monitored call that he had found a way around the jail’s ban on inmates using email.

The jail also provided Manafort with an extension cord so he can use his laptop in his cell, and not just in the workspace, according to Mueller.

Additionally, on a monitored called, Manafort suggested to the unnamed caller a strategy for moving the trial that was not among the reasons his attorneys floated in their request for the delay, according Mueller.

Mueller also pounced on Manafort’s request Tuesday that the judge reverse an order issued previously that day to move Manafort from his current jail in rural Virginia to one much closer to the Alexandria courthouse. The judge, U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis ordered the move after Manafort had complained in his delay request about the distance of the rural jail from his attorneys’ offices.  Manafort in his request to stay in the rural jail said that “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, in a response filed later Wednesday, accused Mueller of being “self-serving and inaccurate.”

“While the opposition does not generally misrepresent the confinement conditions, its cavalier dismissal of the challenges of preparing for back-to-back complex white collar criminal trials while the defendant is in custody shows a lack of concern with fairness or due process,” Manafort said.

He took issue with Mueller’s description of Manafort’s email use, arguing the communications were being sent by his lawyers “in a manner that is consistent with the rules of the detention facility.”

Referencing the comments Manafort made on phone calls about his conditions in jail, the court filing said that Mueller “not pause to consider the reasons a detained defendant might have to make his situation sound better when speaking with concerned friends and family.”

Read the full Mueller filing and Manafort’s response below:

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