Ex-Trump campaign manager Manafort seeks to move, postpone trial

(Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort on Friday requested that his July trial be moved further away from Washington D.C., arguing that potential jurors in the capital had consumed too much negative press coverage about him and were biased against Trump.

Manafort's trial in a federal court in Alexandria, Virginia, is due to start on July 25, but in court filings on Friday his lawyers also asked for postponement until another trial due to start in September in Washington, D.C. runs its course. His lawyers argued that his pretrial detention in jail is making it hard to prepare his defense.

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Trump's former campaign manager Paul Manafort through the years
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Trump's former campaign manager Paul Manafort through the years
U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump's campaign chair and convention manager Paul Manafort speaks at a press conference at the Republican Convention in Cleveland, U.S., July 19, 2016. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump gives a thumbs up as his campaign manager Paul Manafort (C) and daughter Ivanka (R) look on during Trump's walk through at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, U.S., July 21, 2016. REUTERS/Rick Wilking
U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump's campaign chair and convention manager Paul Manafort appears at a press conference at the Republican Convention in Cleveland, U.S., July 19, 2016. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump's campaign manager Paul Manafort talks to the media from the Trump family box on the floor of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, U.S. July 18, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Paul Manafort, senior advisor to Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump, smiles as he talks with other Trump campaign staff after Trump spoke to supporters following the results of the Indiana state primary, at Trump Tower in Manhattan, New York, U.S., May 3, 2016. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump's senior campaign adviser Paul Manafort (L) walks into a reception with former Republican presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson, at the Republican National Committee Spring Meeting at the Diplomat Resort in Hollywood, Florida, April 21, 2016. REUTERS/Joe Skipper
CLEVELAND, OH - JULY 21: Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort listens to Ivanka Trump speak at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland on July 21, 2016. (Photo by Michael Robinson Chavez/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - JULY 20: A man with a security credential takes a selfie at the podium as Donald Trump, flanked by campaign manager Paul Manafort and daughter Ivanka, checks the podium early Thursday afternoon in preparation for accepting the GOP nomination to be President at the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio on Wednesday July 20, 2016. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
UNITED STATES - JULY 19: Paul Manafort, advisor to Donald Trump, is seen on the floor of the Quicken Loans Arena at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, July 19, 2016. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
MEET THE PRESS -- Pictured: (l-r) Paul Manafort., Convention Manager, Trump Campaign, appears on 'Meet the Press' in Washington, D.C., Sunday April 10, 2016. (Photo by: William B. Plowman/NBC/NBC NewsWire via Getty Images)
NA.R.DoleMicCk1.081596.RG.Republican presidential candidate Bob Dole looks up from podium at balloons and television cameras as convention center manager Paul Manafort, at right, points out preparations for tonight's acceptance speech in San Diego, 08/15/96. (Photo by Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 21: Paul Manafort, Roger Stone and Lee Atwater, young Republicans political operatives who have set up lobbying firms. (Photo by Harry Naltchayan/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
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Special Counsel Robert Mueller has indicted Manafort on charges including bank and tax fraud but the motions filed on Friday are Manafort's latest attempt to stall the legal process. Last month the judge overseeing the Alexandria case rejected a motion to dismiss the indictment, affirming Mueller's mandate to prosecute him.

Citing his Sixth Amendment right to trial by an impartial jury, Manafort's lawyers said in the motion on Friday that the trial should be moved from Alexandria, which is a short drive from Washington, to Roanoke, Virginia about 240 miles away.

They cited voting data showing Hillary Clinton took two-thirds of the 2016 presidential vote in Alexandria, which was part of an "inside-the-Beltway" area preoccupied with political media coverage, much of it negative towards Manafort and Trump.

They argued a jury from that population would be biased against Manafort, given his former role as manager of Trump's campaign, and that Roanoke, where the presidential vote was more balanced between the Democrat and Republican parties, would draw a less biased jury pool.

"Nowhere in the country is the bias against Mr. Manafort more apparent than here in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area," Manafort's lawyers wrote. "It is not a stretch to expect that voters who supported Secretary Clinton would be predisposed against Mr. Manafort."

Manafort was jailed last month by the judge overseeing the Washington, D.C. case after Mueller filed fresh charges against him over alleged witness tampering while he was under house arrest. The jail is about a two hour drive from Washington.

In another motion on Friday, Manafort's lawyers argued that the judge in the Virginia case should postpone the trial from July 25 until after the Washington trial is finished. Mueller's office opposed the motion, they said .

"Mr. Manafort's current detention has made meetings with his attorneys to prepare his defense far more infrequent and enormously time-consuming," his lawyers wrote.

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