Paul Manafort thinks he’s being treated like a ‘VIP’ in jail, special counsel says

Paul Manafort thinks he’s being treated like a ‘VIP’ in jail, special counsel says

WASHINGTON (CNN) – Paul Manafort will be transferred to a new jail while he awaits trial despite his objections, a federal judge ruled Wednesday, as federal prosecutors released new details about Manafort’s extensive contact with the outside world while he’s behind bars.

Manafort has had hundreds of phone calls to his lawyers and even more to others from jail and sent emails through his lawyers to outside contacts, special counsel Robert Mueller’s team wrote in a new filing. Regarding how he’s prepared for trial, prosecutors heard him say on a taped call that he’s reviewed all evidence before his trial, met with his lawyers every day and has “all my files like I would at home,” the filing says.

“On the monitored prison phone calls, Manafort has mentioned that he is being treated like a ‘VIP’,” the filing stated.

The filing also gives more details about the “solitary confinement” conditions Manafort’s attorneys previously described — making it sound like he’s had a far easier living situation than other jail inmates.

The statements from prosecutors on Wednesday came alongside an order from Judge T.S. Ellis who wrote that Manafort will be moved to a federal jail in Alexandria, Virginia, before his trial. The former Trump campaign chairman had said Tuesday that he wanted to stay at Northern Neck Regional Jail, two hours from DC, citing security concerns.

“The professionals at the Alexandria Detention Center are very familiar with housing high-profile defendants including foreign and domestic terrorists, spies and traitors,” Ellis wrote. “All of those defendants were housed safely in Alexandria pending their respective trials and defendant’s experience at the Alexandria Detention Center will presumably be no different.”

Dispute over communication

Prosecutors say Manafort is being held in a private living unit larger than where other inmates stay that has its own bathroom, shower, telephone and workspace, and he has a laptop with an extension cord he can use daily in his room at Northern Neck Regional Jail in Warsaw, Virginia. Manafort doesn’t have to wear a prison jumpsuit, the filing adds.

Manafort has even used a workaround, prosecutors allege, to send more emails than he’s allowed on the laptop he has in jail.

To send those extra emails, he “reads and composes emails on a second laptop that is shuttled in and out of the facility by his team. When the team takes the laptop from the jail, it reconnects to the internet and Manafort’s emails are transmitted,” the filing stated.

Manafort’s attorneys objected to the prosecutors’ descriptions of the jail conditions, saying the idea of being a “VIP” is exaggerated.

“The Special Counsel does not pause to consider the reasons a detained defendant might have to make his situation sound better when speaking with concerned friends and family,” Manafort’s attorneys said in a filing Wednesday.

They go on to write that prosecutors’ “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 setback on evidence

Manafort notched another pre-trial setback additionally on Wednesday. Ellis denied Manafort’s request to suppress the evidence investigators obtained from his apartment in Alexandria. The search was not too broad, as Manafort alleged, and did not violate his constitutional rights, Ellis said.

“These facts, taken together, lend ample support to the common-sense conclusion reached by the magistrate judge here, namely that probable cause existed,” Ellis wrote about some of the evidence seized in the search.

A separate federal judge in DC, as well as Ellis in Virginia, also denied Manafort’s attempts to throw out other evidence prosecutors obtained from another search. The judge in DC, Amy Berman Jackson, has not yet ruled on whether prosecutors used the search warrant appropriately for Manafort’s apartment.