Published: Sat, July 21, 2018
Global | By Enrique Rogers

Mueller seeks immunity for five witnesses in Manafort case

Mueller seeks immunity for five witnesses in Manafort case

Prosecutors asked for the court to compel the witnesses to testify. On Tuesday U.S. District Court Judge T.S. Ellis III rejected the claim by Manafort's lawyers that he could not get a fair trial due to the intense interest in his case in the Washington, D.C. area. He said the five are likely to invoke their right against self-incrimination if they don't receive immunity. The memorandum states prosecutors want to hide their identities to prevent exposure to "undue harassment". Special counsel Robert Mueller is seeking immunity for five potential witnesses in the upcoming trial of Manafort. Politico reports people who know about Manafort's spending habits and financial dealings may be among those called to testify.

Manafort, 69, is accused of bank fraud and tax crimes in the Alexandria case.

Manafort was recently moved to an Alexandria, Virginia, jail pending his trial, after previously being detained at a facility in Northern Neck, Virginia, where he said in taped conversations that he was being treated like a "VIP" and has access to all the paperwork he needs to prepare his defense.

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"The mere fact that a case has drawn substantial media attention does not, by itself, warrant a change in venue", Ellis wrote in his ruling. It is the first major case arising from the investigation of U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller into ties between Russian Federation and the Trump campaign.

Earlier on Tuesday, Mueller filed a series of sealed motions calling for immunity for five potential witnesses in the Alexandria trial.

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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