Judge denies motion by Trump ex-campaign chief to move Virginia trial

Robert Mueller and Paul Manafort

A federal judge in Virginia on Tuesday denied a motion by former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort to move a trial set to start next week from the Washington suburb of Alexandria to the city of Roanoke, Virginia.

But Judge T.S. Ellis III of U.S. District Court ordered that the trial remain in Alexandria, Virginia, where he said Manafort could get just as fair a trial. He indicated that the witnesses would invoke their Fifth Amendment rights unless they were granted immunity, and requested that the immunity motions be sealed.

Manafort's trial before Washington, D.C., District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson is expected to take place in September.

Mr. Manafort faces charges of tax fraud, bank fraud, and failing to file reports on foreign bank accounts, based on accusations that he didn't report to tax authorities more than $30 million in income from his work for pro-Russian politicians in Ukraine between 2006 and 2015.

The lawyers cited extensive pretrial publicity in the case and the fact that potential jurors in Alexandria were more likely to have supported Hillary Clinton than Trump in the 2016 presidential election.

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The immunity request specifies that the "named individuals will not testify or provide other information" without it, because of the protections against "self-incrimination".

He is now being held in jail in Alexandria.

Ellis also rejected Manafort's argument that media coverage of his case would be especially harmful around Washington, a major media market where people follow the news closely.

He said there was no evidence that potential jurors in the region were politically biased, and that in any event, jurors' political leanings by themselves aren't evidence that they can't fairly consider a case.

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