Paul Manafort says he's being treated 'like a VIP' in jail

Trump’s former presidential campaign chairman is detained while awaiting trial on charges of financial crimes

Paul Manafort, Donald Trump’s former presidential campaign chairman, was recorded saying he is being treated “like a VIP” in jail despite complaining publicly about the conditions, prosecutors said on Wednesday.

Manafort also allegedly remarked that he enjoyed access to “all my files like I would at home” while claiming to a judge that his access to records was limited.

The 69-year-old political operative, who is detained while awaiting trial on charges of financial crimes, made the comments in monitored prison telephone calls, according to a court filing by the office of Robert Mueller, the special counsel.

The filing said that Manafort had made more than 300 phone calls in the last three weeks and even “developed a workaround” to outsmart a ban on inmates sending or receiving emails at Northern Neck regional jail in Warsaw, Virginia.

Mueller’s team argued in its filing that an attempt by Manafort to further delay his criminal trial in Virginia by two or three months should be denied by Judge Thomas Ellis. The trial is scheduled to begin later this month.

Manafort asked for the delay on the grounds he has been unable to prepare for his trial properly since being jailed. Manafort was previously free on bail, but his bail was revoked when he was charged with tampering with a witness in a separate criminal case in Washington.

The Mueller team’s court filing said Manafort was being detained in a “living unit” that was bigger than that given to other inmates. He has his own bathroom and shower, a private telephone and laptop, and is not required to wear a prison uniform, the prosecutors said. He also has use of a separate workspace.

“Manafort has revealed on the monitored phone calls that in order to exchange emails, he reads and composes emails on a second laptop that is shuttled in and out of the facility by his team,” the prosecutors said. “When the team takes the laptop from the jail, it reconnects to the internet and Manafort’s emails are transmitted.”

Manafort has also spoken daily with his attorneys and has had “multiple visits with his legal team” in jail despite claiming to court that he has struggled to meet his attorneys since being moved further away from their offices.

Manafort’s recorded remark about his access to his files appears to contradict his claim to have had “very limited access to his attorneys and the records” from the discovery process that he needed, the Mueller team said.

“Manafort told the person on the call that, ‘I’ve gone through all the discovery now’,” according to the filing.

Manafort is charged with bank and tax fraud in eastern Virginia and is separately charged in Washington with counts including money laundering and failing to register as a foreign agent. Manafort denies all the charges. His trial in Washington is scheduled to begin in September.


Jon Swaine in New York

The GuardianTramp

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