Politics

Judge rejects bid by ex-Trump campaign chief Paul Manafort to bar evidence seized from self-storage unit

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Key Points
  • Federal judge Amy Berman Jackson denied a request by former Trump campaign boss Paul Manafort to bar business records seized from a self-storage unit he had used.
  • Manafort's $10 million bail was revoked last week by Jackson, who ordered him sent to jail pending trial, after prosecutors claimed he had tried to tamper with a potential witness.
  • Manafort is charged with a slew of alleged crimes that are related to his consulting work for pro-Russia politicians in Ukraine.
Former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort arrives for arraignment on a third superseding indictment against him by Special Counsel Robert Mueller on charges of witness tampering, at U.S. District Court in Washington, June 15, 2018.
Jonathan Ernst | Reuters

The bad news just keeps on coming for former Trump campaign boss Paul Manafort.

A federal judge in Washington on Thursday rejected Manafort's request to bar as evidence business records seized by the FBI from a self-storage unit he was using in Virginia a day after agents got access to the unit from Manafort's assistant on May 27, 2017.

The ruling comes a week after the same judge, Amy Berman Jackson, revoked Manafort's $10 million bail and ordered him jailed after prosecutors charged he tried to tamper with a potential witness for his upcoming criminal trials.

Jackson on Thursday also issued a directive to the Justice Department that Manafort should be confined to a jail separate, "to the extent practicable from persons awaiting or serving sentences, or being held in custody pending appeal."

Manafort's lawyers had argued that the files seized from the storage locker should not be allowed to be used at his trial before Jackson on the grounds that the search was illegal.

The lawyers noted that "agents entered the storage unit and looked around without a warrant the day before they presented their request for a warrant to the court," Jackson wrote in her order Thursday.

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"While they did not open the boxes or review the papers filed in the drawers on that day, they described the exterior of the containers they observed, including the labels on the boxes, in the warrant application," Jackson wrote.

"Therefore, Manafort claims, warrantless initial entry tainted the later search of the files that was authorized by the warrant."

Jackson flatly rejected that argument.

She noted that "law enforcement agents do not need a warrant to enter a location if they have voluntary consent," as they did from Manafort's assistant.

And, Jackson added, agents do not "need to have the consent of the person under investigation if they receive permission from a third party who has, or who reasonably appears to have, common authority over the place to be searched."

The judge's ruling noted that Manafort's assistant had leased the storage unit, unlocked the door for the agents and gave them written permission to enter it.

Manafort, 69, is due to go on trial next month in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Virginia, on charges that include bank fraud, conspiracy and filing false tax returns.

He is scheduled to then stand trial in September before Jackson in Washington on charges that include conspiracy, money laundering, acting as an unregistered agent and making a false statement.

Both cases relate to alleged crimes committed by Manafort in connection with consulting work he did for pro-Russia politicians in Ukraine.

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