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Ex-Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort seeks to move, postpone trial

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U.S. President Donald Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort on Friday asked for his July trial to be moved further away from Washington D.C., saying potential jurors in the capital had consumed too much negative press coverage about him and were biased against Trump.

Manafort’s trial in a federal court in Alexandria, Virginia, is due to start on July 25, but in court filings on Friday his lawyers also asked for postponement until another trial due to start in September in Washington, D.C. runs its course. They said his pretrial detention made it hard to prepare his defense.

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Special Counsel Robert Mueller has indicted Manafort on charges including bank and tax fraud. Friday’s filings are Manafort’s latest attempt to stall the legal process, after a judge overseeing the Alexandria case last month rejected an effort to have the indictment dismissed.

Manafort’s lawyers said on Friday the trial should be moved from Alexandria, which is a short drive from Washington, to Roanoke, Virginia about 240 miles (386 km) away.

They cited voting data showing Hillary Clinton took two-thirds of the 2016 presidential vote in Alexandria, which was part of an “inside-the-Beltway” area preoccupied with political media coverage, much of it negative towards Manafort and Trump.

They argued that Roanoke, which Trump carried, would draw a less biased jury pool.

“Nowhere in the country is the bias against Mr. Manafort more apparent than here in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area,” Manafort’s lawyers wrote.

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“It is not a stretch to expect that voters who supported Secretary Clinton would be predisposed against Mr. Manafort.”

Manafort was jailed last month by the judge overseeing the Washington, D.C. case after Mueller submitted witness tampering charges. The jail is about a two-hour drive from Washington.

Manafort’s lawyers urged the judge in the Virginia case to postpone the trial until after the Washington trial wraps up.

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“Mr. Manafort’s current detention has made meetings with his attorneys to prepare his defense far more infrequent and enormously time-consuming,” his lawyers wrote.

Also on Friday, prosecutors said they would introduce evidence at trial showing that a senior bank executive helped Manafort get $16 million in loans in return for efforts to get him positions on the campaign and in the administration.

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The bank, identified as “Lender D” in Friday’s filing, is the Federal Savings Bank, a Chicago-based lender, according to prior filings in the case. Federal’s chief executive is Steven Calk, who had an advisory role in the Trump campaign.

“During the loan application process, the senior executive expressed interest in working on the Trump campaign, told the defendant about his interest, and eventually secured a position advising the Trump campaign,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Uzo Asonye wrote.

In April Democratic lawmakers questioned whether Calk was seeking a favor from the incoming Trump administration when he inquired about the confirmation process for a top U.S. Army position before extending the loans to Manafort.

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A spokeswoman for Federal Savings did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Friday. The bank has previously denied there was any connection between the loans and Calk’s position on the Trump campaign.

Reporting by Nathan Layne; Editing by Clive McKeef and Clarence Fernandez


Report typos and corrections to: [email protected].
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WATCH: Betsy DeVos absolutely destroyed in Congressional hearing into her lawbreaking

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Controversial Education Secretary Betsy DeVos was blasted during a congressional hearing examining how she was held in contempt of court for violating a judge's court order.

DeVos was grilled in the House Education Committee by Rep. Josh Harder (D-CA), who told the story of how the actions for DeVos is costing one of his constituents $40,000.

"After being ordered by a federal court to stop collecting debts from cheated Corinthian students, you ignored the order and kept stealing money from these students," Harder said. "You were even held in contempt of court because of it."

"You're not standing up for them, you're working for the schools that defrauded them," he explained.

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Donald Trump whines ‘it’s not fair I’m being impeached’

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President Donald Trump said Friday that he was fine with a "longer" impeachment trial in the U.S. Senate because he wanted to call his own witnesses to appear, despite Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's resistance.

Yet, when he returned to Twitter Friday night, Trump lamented that it wasn't fair he was being impeached.

"It’s not fair that I’m being Impeached when I’ve done absolutely nothing wrong! The Radical Left, Do Nothing Democrats have become the Party of Hate. They are so bad for our Country!" he tweeted.

https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/1205648124989100033

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It’s hard to argue Trump was innocent when Rudy Giuliani is in Ukraine to keep it going: Former US Attorney

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Former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara explained Friday that it's difficult for President Donald Trump to claim he is innocent of attempting to bribe Ukraine when his own lawyer just returned from trying to dig up more dirt on the son of his opponent.

"Isn't this what got the president in trouble in the first place?" CNN's Wolf Blitzer asked Bharara.

"Yes, it actually is," Bharara said simply. "I don't know exactly what's going on here. I think Rudy Giuliani wants to be close to the president and help the president and argue on behalf of the president. There are a lot of implications that Rudy Giuliani is doing going on forays back to Ukraine, which some people would call the scene of the crime. It causes more scrutiny to be brought upon him. We've seen reported he's under investigation himself, and I think it raises eyebrows in the political sphere. But I think something important about it relates to impeachment."

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