Five witnesses in the case of Manafort granted immunity

Five witnesses in the case of Manafort granted immunity

Five witnesses in the case of Manafort granted immunity

Federal Judge Thomas Selby Ellis III has granted immunity to five witnesses and ordered them to testify in the case against former Trump campaign consultant Paul Manafort.

On Monday a list of five witnesses was released, as Manafort's request for a trial delay was granted, moving the date back to start on July 31st, instead of this week.

Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III last week released a list of almost 500 pieces of evidence that prosecutors may show to a jury, including emails and memos discussing strategy with and for Yanukovych.

Also on Monday afternoon, Judge Ellis agreed to the request by Mueller's office for "use immunity" for five different witnesses, all of whom had said they would take the Fifth Amendment if called to testify in Manafort's trial.

The trial scheduled to start on Wednesday in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia involves 16 counts including bank and tax fraud and failure to file reports of foreign bank and financial accounts.

With a July 31 start date, Manafort's trial is coincidentally set to begin on the second anniversary of the FBI's investigation into ties between Donald Trump's campaign, which Manafort once ran, and Russian Federation.

"I'm not going to allow this trial to drag on", Ellis said, adding he would not let it turn into political theater.

Manafort faces a second criminal trial in Washington in September on related charges, including witness tampering, in connection with lobbying work he performed for the pro-Russia Ukrainian government. 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. The Mueller indictment contains an email chain between Laporta and others regarding Manafort's "Int'l Income Question".

Downing said the defense also only recently received 40,000 pages of documents from the phones and computer of Richard Gates, Manafort's ex-business partner. Downing, however, said the defense needed to make its own determination about the documents' relevance.

But the case has faced skepticism, even from one of the judges.

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