Former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort, once a kingmaker, just lost yet another battle in his war to fight charges of financial wrongdoing brought against him by special counsel Robert Mueller in federal court in D.C. and Virginia.
Manafort has already failed in his primary, jurisdictional line of attack: He made an unsuccessful, two-front effort to convince the judges hearing the charges that Mueller didn’t have the authority to bring the charges against him. First the D.C., then the Virginia federal district court judge ruled against him, although the Virginia judge first criticized Mueller. Instead of facing one trial (or none, as he hoped), Manafort now faces two—that’s the risk he took when he decided not to consolidate the cases but rather to try his luck with that argument in both places.
When Manafort’s alleged witness tampering landed him in jail instead of getting him acquitted, he decided to seize on his imprisonment as an excuse to delay trial. Among other tactics, he complained that the distance between D.C. and his Warsaw, Va., prison and prison conditions made preparing his defense more difficult.
Lo and behold, Manafort had been recorded on the phone—which he could use for 12 hours a day in his private, self-contained living suite with only the inconvenience of having to redial every 15 minutes—saying that he was getting “VIP” treatment. He’d even found a workaround for sending emails, getting attorneys to bring a laptop where he could read and compose responses to be sent when the computer reconnected to wifi. In light of the evidence Mueller produced regarding Manafort’s plush accommodation, Virginia federal judge, T.S. Ellis, ordered Manafort moved to an Alexandria jail where he’s getting decidedly less special treatment.
Manafort’s latest maneuver: Trying to block Mueller from using evidence seized from his condo in Alexandria at trial. Manafort lost a similar battle to suppress evidence unearthed in a search of his storage unit in late June; then, he claimed a search was improperly executed. This time, Manafort argued that agents did not have probable cause to seize electronic devices, such as an iPod touch and digital cameras, nor to take others’ financial records. D.C. federal district court judge Amy Berman Jackson shot this protest down as well.
That loss came as Mueller released a list of more than 500 items of evidence he intends to use against Manafort—and requested immunity for five people. Fox News is reporting that one of the five is The Podesta Group’s Tony Podesta, who worked with Manafort in Ukraine.
In sum: All’s going well for Mueller and just about every development bodes terribly for Manafort.