Judge postpones Paul Manafort trial until next week

Paul Manafort

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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.

Manafort, dressed in a green jail jumpsuit, was in the courtroom as his attorneys argued for the delay.

It will be the first trial to originate in the special counsel's investigation of Russia's role in the 2016 election. Manafort's lawyers said extensive pretrial news media coverage in the Washington region had interfered with Manafort's right to a fair trial.

"There are equities and reasons on both sides", Ellis said Monday, explaining his decision.

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Within hours of Ellis' ruling, the names of those witnesses were unsealed: Dennis Raico, Cindy Laporta, Conor O'Brien, Donna Duggan, and James Brennan.

Manafort joined the campaign of then-candidate Donald Trump in March 2016 and served as the campaign manager from June to August that year.

Manafort's lawyers also sought to prevent prosecutors from talking about alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government.

Manafort must defend himself against charges ranging from bank fraud to failing to register as a foreign agent for lobbying work he performed on behalf of Viktor Yanukovych, the former pro-Russia president of Ukraine. "You really care about what information Mr. Manafort can give you to lead you to Mr. Trump and an impeachment, or whatever".

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The initial phase of jury selection is still set to get underway this week in Alexandria, just outside Washington, D.C., but Manafort's trial itself now isn't scheduled to begin until next week, on July 31. 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. Ellis made it clear that he generally believes that prosecutors' motives are not relevant at trial, but said Manafort's lawyers could approach him during the trial, to make the argument in its "then-living color" as it comes up.

In a filing last week, attorneys with the special counsel's office said the witnesses must remain confidential because they would be subject to "undue harassment" if their identities were revealed.

Attorney Kevin Downing had argued the defense needed more time to go through tens of thousands of documents.

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.

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