A federal judge on Thursday set a July 10 trial date for former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.
Manafort pleaded not guilty Thursday to 18 charges brought by special counsel Robert Mueller, including tax and bank fraud, in the federal court in the Eastern District of Virginia. Manafort’s lawyer, Kevin Downing, said at the arraignment Thursday that he would prefer Manafort’s trial in Virginia be later this fall, after the trial scheduled for him in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 17. Downing said if he were wearing “rosy glasses,” the trial would be in November.
“You need to go back to the optometrist because that ain’t gonna happen,” said U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis, an appointee of President Ronald Reagan.
Manafort and his former deputy, Rick Gates, were indicted by a grand jury in the Eastern District of Virginia last month. Ellis dismissed charges against Gates last week, at the request of federal prosecutors, after Gates pleaded guilty to separate but related charges in the District of Columbia.
Manafort waived his right to have the charges in Virginia brought along with the charges in Washington. He and Gates were originally indicted in D.C. in October, and a superseding indictment was filed against Manafort there last month. The charges in D.C. include conspiracy to launder money, failure to register as a foreign agent and making false statements. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson is overseeing that case.
The trial in Virginia is expected to last eight to 10 days. Lawyers for the special counsel said they intend to call roughly 20 to 25 witnesses. However, all of the discovery has already been produced, special counsel lawyer Greg Andres said.
Manafort’s motion to dismiss the case, which Downing said he intends to file, is due April 30. In D.C., the deadline for the motion to dismiss is next week. Downing said he plans to argue in both motions that the special counsel exceeded his mandate in bringing the charges. Downing also made that argument in a separate civil lawsuit filed in D.C., also before Jackson.
Other pretrial motions, such as motions in limine, are due June 22. A hearing on those is set for June 29.
Ellis also ordered Manafort to be kept on home confinement with GPS monitoring, because the judge said Manafort is a flight risk due to his wealth and contacts overseas. That means Manafort will wear two GPS monitor bracelets, as Jackson, the judge in D.C., also required one.
Ellis also asked how the trial in Virginia will “complicate” the trial in D.C. Andrew Weissman, a lawyer for the special counsel, explained that while Manafort faces tax fraud charges in Virginia, those charges are the subject of the conspiracy charge in Washington.
“Why should we try that charge twice?” the judge asked.
Weismann said special counsel lawyers had gone over the charges with Downing and Manafort, but stressed that Manafort chose to waive his right to have the newer charges brought in D.C.