- The Washington Times - Friday, June 29, 2018

Paul Manafort has filed an emergency petition with the U.S. Court of Appeals in D.C. to win release from jail a month before his first trial is to begin in Alexandria.

Attorney Kevin Downing said District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson, who revoked his bail two weeks ago, is making it “impossible” to prepare for two complicated criminal trials in Virginia on July 25 and in D.C. this September.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller has brought tax evasion and money launder charges against President Donald Trump’s former campaign manager.

Prosecutor Andrew Weissmann moved to revoke bail and charged Mr. Manafort with obstruction of justice after the defendant and a business partner reached out briefly to two witnesses in the case.

Mr. Downing argued in his petition filed Thursday that Judge Jackson didn’t prohibit him from talking to witnesses when she set bail terms of $10 million.

“The detention order gravely impairs Mr. Manafort’s ability to prepare his defense in the two federal criminal trials that are set to begin imminently,” Mr. Downing said. “Mr. Manafort—a 69-year-old man facing criminal charges in two complex federal cases—is now being housed in solitary confinement, locked in his cell for 24 hours per day (excluding visits from his attorneys), at a facility that is approximately two hours away from his legal team in Washington, D.C. Under these circumstances, it is impossible to prepare for his upcoming trials.”

While Mr. Downing proceeds to appeal Judge Jackson’s order at a standard pace, his petition seeks immediate release.

Mr. Manafort respectfully requests that this Court or one of its judges order his release pending resolution of this appeal so that he may adequately prepare for his upcoming trials,” he said.

Mr. Downing said the government doesn’t consider his client a danger to the public.

“His conditions of release included the standard condition that he not ‘commit any criminal offense’ while released,” he said. “They did not include any provision prohibiting contact with persons who may be witnesses or otherwise involved in his case.”

Mr. Downing said the evidence that Mr. Manafort tampered with witnesses is “thin––to be generous.”

He said the two former European witnesses he contacted briefly last winter were not known to be witnesses at the time.

Mr. Manafort had been confined to his Alexandria condo and monitored via a GPS tracking device.

There was an order from the Virginia court not to talked to witnesses. Mr. Manafort reached out to two witnesses related to charges that were brought in D.C. but not in the Virginia indictment,” Mr. Downing said, so he didn’t violate that order.

Mr. Manafort has therefore complied with the court’s conditions of release, and there is no basis to believe that he would not continue to adhere to his conditions of release pending resolution of this appeal,” he said.

Judge Jackson wrote in her confinement order that one witness reported the contact as an attempt by Mr. Manafort to “suborn perjury”

“The defendant has already experienced some difficulty adhering to this Court’s directives and another Court’s directives, and his apparent belief that any such directives should be construed as narrowly as possible leaves the Court with the unshakeable impression that he cannot be trusted to comply in the future,” she said.

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