Lawyers for Paul Manafort are seeking to delay one of his criminal trials and move the location away from Washington, where they say the bias against their client is so great that a fair trial would be “impossible,” according to court documents filed in federal court on Friday.
The legal team for Mr. Manafort, President Trump’s former campaign chairman, asked a federal judge to move the trial from Alexandria, Va., to Roanoke, Va., about 240 miles away.
Roanoke is in southwest Virginia, in a smaller media market where potential jurors would be less likely to be influenced by news media coverage of Mr. Manafort’s case, his lawyers argued. The defense also suggested that Roanoke offered a pool of jurors with more “balanced” political views.
Voters in the Alexandria area voted 2 to 1 in favor of Mr. Trump’s opponent, Hillary Clinton, in 2016, the defense said. Mr. Trump won the county that surrounds Roanoke.
“Mr. Manafort’s legal issues and the attendant daily media coverage have become theatre in the continuing controversy surrounding President Trump and his election,” his lawyers wrote.
They added that it would be “difficult, if not impossible, to divorce the issues in this case from the political views of potential jurors.”
Mr. Manafort’s lawyers did not respond to a request for comment Friday night. A representative for the United States attorney’s office for the Eastern District of Virginia also did not respond to a request for comment.
Mr. Manafort has been charged in two jurisdictions with a host of federal crimes as part of the special counsel inquiry into Russia’s influence on the presidential campaign.
The trial in Alexandria is set to begin July 25. He is also scheduled to go on trial in September in a separate case in Washington.
His lawyers on Friday asked to delay the first trial until after the one in Washington is finished. The special counsel opposed that motion, according to paperwork filed by the defense.
In June, a federal judge revoked Mr. Manafort’s bail and ordered him to jail after prosecutors filed new charges of attempted witness tampering.
Before that, Mr. Manafort had been meeting with his lawyers multiple times a week, for many hours at a time, his lawyers said. They argued that their client’s detention hampered their ability to prepare for trial.