Political News

Judge Denies Manafort’s Request to Move Trial Away From Washington

Posted July 17, 2018 10:37 p.m. EDT

A federal judge on Tuesday denied Paul Manafort’s request to move the first of his two criminal trials hundreds of miles away from Washington.

Manafort, President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman, had asked to move his trial to Roanoke, Virginia, to avoid political bias and intense media coverage.

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.

In his order, Ellis wrote that left-leaning politics around the nation’s capital was not enough to warrant a venue change. He noted that the Alexandria courthouse selects jurors from across Northern Virginia, an area of about 3 million people.

He said it would be “inappropriate” to move trials around the country to try to find a politically-aligned jury pool. “Jurors’ political leanings are not, by themselves, evidence that those jurors cannot fairly and impartially consider the evidence,” he wrote.

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.

In a case with national media coverage, he wrote, publicity “will be the same in Alexandria as it would be in Roanoke or Kansas City or Dallas.”

Manafort’s lawyers did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday night. A representative for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia also did not respond to a request for comment.

Manafort has been charged in two jurisdictions with a host of federal crimes as part of the special counsel’s inquiry into Russia’s influence on the 2016 presidential campaign.

He is scheduled to go on trial July 25 in the Virginia case. The defense has asked for a delay, and prosecutors are fighting the request.

He is scheduled to go on trial in another case in Washington in September.