Not long after Eastern District of Virginia (EDVA) Judge T.S. Ellis III had some stern words for Paul Manafort’s lawyers and ordered the defendant to be transferred to the Alexandria Detention Center, Manafort’s team has decided to fight back on another front.
Manafort’s legal team responded to special counsel Robert Mueller’s filing on Wednesday that detailed “VIP” treatment Manafort has been receiving at the Northern Neck Regional Jail in Warsaw, Va. Mueller and his prosecutors strongly opposed Manafort’s motion to delay his trial. Well, Manafort’s lawyers have responded by calling out Mueller for being “wrong” about a description of the conditions their client has been jailed in.
“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,” they argue.
A footnote was added after the first use of the word “conditions.” In it, Manafort’s defense says the detail of an “alleged email workaround” was “wrong.” The footnote:
In at least one respect, the description of conditions is inaccurate. With regard to alleged email work-around, the Special Counsel is wrong. While it is possible for Mr. Manafort to provide counsel with information he would like communicated, any communication is then sent by counsel in a manner this is consistent with the rules of the facility.
They then accused Mueller of cherry-picking details to support his team’s version of events.
“Apparently, but unsurprisingly, the Special Counsel has taken the time to assign personnel to listen to all of the non-privileged phone calls Mr. Manafort makes from jail,” they said. “Armed with personal conversation between Mr. Manafort and his family, the Special Counsel selects snippets to support its version of events.”
In case you missed it, Manafort’s team argued earlier that their client’s living conditions in jail were preventing him from adequately preparing for his trial. Mueller‘s office, however, said this wasn’t true.
“It is incorrect that Manafort has ‘very limited access to his attorneys and the records,” prosecutor Andrew Weissmann argued, pointing out that Manafort said on the phone, “I’ve gone through all the discovery now.”
On top of that, Weissmann noted, Manafort has his own room (larger than others), his own phone line, and his own laptop, with an extension cord that lets him work from his bedroom instead of his private work space. Phone logs show that he has made more than 300 calls, including more than 100 to his lawyers. While calls are limited to 15 minutes each, there’s no limit on how many calls he can make. Calls with lawyers are not monitored.
Besides those perks, Manafort also has his own bathroom and shower, and he doesn’t have to wear a prison uniform.
“On the monitored prison phone calls,” Weissman wrote, “Manafort has mentioned that he is being treated like a ‘VIP.’”
In the tweet below, you can see the Mueller footnote accusing Manafort of skirting jail rules.
And Mueller's office says Manafort has found a "workaround" to jail rules that prohibit sending or receiving emails. pic.twitter.com/asjLzFroxA
— Brad Heath (@bradheath) July 11, 2018
Ronn Blitzer contributed to this report.
[Image via Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images]