Former Trump campaign boss Paul Manafort has boasted "he is being treated like a 'VIP'" in a Virginia jail as he awaits his upcoming trials on federal criminal charges — but he will be leaving that lockup after a judge rejected his request to avoid transfer to another jail, according to new court filings.
Prosecutors on special counsel Robert Mueller's team said in one of those filings that Manafort, who has been in a Warsaw, Va., jail since mid-June after being accused of trying to tamper with witnesses, has gotten "unique privileges" in that lockup.
Those fringe benefits include "a private, self-contained living unit" that is bigger than his fellow inmates' spaces, "his own bathroom and shower facility, his own personal telephone, and his own workplace to prepare for trial," prosecutors say in the filing. And he isn't required to wear a prison uniform, either, the filing said.
"Manafort also possesses a personal laptop that he is permitted to use in his unit" to review materials for his upcoming trials, according to the filing, which opposes a bid by Manafort's lawyers to delay the start of his first trial, in Alexandria, Va., until after he is tried in September in Washington, DC., on separate federal charges.
And he has even developed "a workaround" to the jail's ban on sending or receiving emails by reading and composing emails on another laptop computer that is shuttled into the jail by his defense team, which is then used to transmit the emails after it is taken out of the jail, prosecutors said.
But Manafort will have to leave the Warsaw jail and be housed in a jail in Alexandria, Va., where his first trial is scheduled to start July 25, U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis said in an order made public Wednesday.
Ellis on Tuesday had ordered Manafort to be transferred to Alexandria after complaints by his defense lawyers that it was impossible for them and Manafort to properly prepare for his trial because of the distance to the Warsaw jail, and the fact that he was being kept in "solitary confinement" there for 23 hours per day.
After Ellis' transfer order, Manafort's lawyers asked him to be allowed to stay in Warsaw, citing concerns about his safety. But Ellis brushed aside those worries in a new order, saying that officials at the federal lockup in Alexandria have experience handling inmates such as "foreign and domestic terrorists, spies and traitors."
Ellis also wrote that "it is suprising and confusing" when defense counsel identifies a problem "and then opposes the most logical solution to that program."
"The dissonance between defendant’s motion to continue and motion opposing transfer to Alexandria Detention Center cannot be easily explained or resolved,” he wrote.