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Judge rejects Manafort's bid to move trial further from DC

Judge rejects Manafort's bid to move trial further from DC
© Anna Moneymaker

A federal judge on Tuesday rejected a motion from former Trump campaign chairman Paul ManafortPaul John ManafortThree reasons Mueller may not charge Trump with obstruction Judge calls Manafort plea deal 'highly unusual' Calif. man ensnared in Mueller probe sentenced to 6 months in prison MORE to move his Virginia trial further from the Washington, D.C., media market.

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., because his attorneys claimed that relentless media coverage of his role in the Trump campaign and the Russia investigation would taint a potential juror pool.

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"The mere fact that a case has drawn substantial media attention does not, by itself, warrant a change in venue," Ellis wrote in his ruling.

Manafort faces charges of bank fraud and money laundering, as well as lobbying law violations over his work for pro-Russia political parties in Ukraine prior to joining the Trump campaign. He has pleaded not guilty, but a former business associate pleaded guilty to similar charges earlier this year.

His attorneys had previously argued that the trial "may be the rare case where a juror’s predisposition may directly tie to their vote in the last presidential election" in his bid to move the trial to Roanoke.

"It is not a stretch to expect that voters who supported [former] Secretary [of State Hillary] Clinton would be predisposed against Mr. Manafort or that voters who supported President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump: 'I don't trust everybody in the White House' JPMorgan CEO withdraws from Saudi conference Trump defends family separations at border MORE would be less inclined toward the Special Counsel,” the attorneys wrote in a court filing arguing for Roanoke's more even distribution of Republican and Democratic voters.

Manafort has denied any wrongdoing, and none of the charges filed against him by Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE's special counsel's office relate to allegations of collusion with Russia or any crimes committed during the 2016 presidential election.

He remains in jail after a judge ordered him detained last month for violating the terms of his bail by allegedly attempting to tamper with a witness.