Judge denies Manafort's request to suppress evidence

Former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort is shown in this booking

The office of special counsel Robert Mueller has requested immunity for five potential witnesses who could testify in the upcoming trial of Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort, according to a Tuesday court filing.

U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis denied a motion filed by Manafort's attorneys to move the Virginia trial, scheduled for later this month, from Alexandria, Va., to Roanoke, Va., over his claims that relentless media coverage of his role in the Trump campaign and by extension the Russian Federation investigation would taint a potential juror pool.

In theory, the move to grant the witnesses immunity prevents them from invoking their Fifth Amendment rights and staying silent on certain questions when testifying against Manafort.

Manafort's trial on money laundering and other corruption charges is set to begin July 25.

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Defence lawyers had sought to move the trial to Roanoke in Virginia, arguing that Mr Manafort would not receive a fair trial in Alexandria due to its proximity to Washington DC and the extensive pre-trial publicity. That means the government couldn't use their statements against them.

Commenting on the request, prosecutors stated: "It is necessary because the motions would reveal the identifies of uncharged third parties involved in the investigation and the trial, thereby creating the risk of undue harassment".

Ellis also rejected Manafort's argument that media coverage of his case would be especially harmful around Washington, a major media market where people follow the news closely. The judge also said that "jurors' political leanings are not, by themselves, evidence that those jurors can not fairly and impartially consider the evidence presented and apply the law as instructed by the Court".

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