Hoping to delay his trial in Virginia on charges of bank fraud and money laundering, Paul Manafort instead managed this week to get himself transferred from a jail where prosecutors said he described his treatment as "VIP" to one where his lawyers claim he is anxious about his safety.
Manafort, the former campaign manager for President Trump, has been jailed at Northern Neck Regional Jail since a judge denied bail.
On monitored prison phone calls, Manafort has said he's been treated like a "VIP," Mueller said.
A federal judge on Wednesday ordered that Manafort, who was indicted as part of special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russian Federation probe MORE's investigation, move to the Arlington jail so he could better communicate with his lawyers.
"Manafort also possesses a personal laptop that he is permitted to use in his unit", prosecutors wrote.
Previously, they had described him as being kept in "solitary confinement" nearly 24 hours a day for his own safety.
Manafort's lawyers did not respond to a request for comment.
Manafort, 69, was transferred Thursday to the Alexandria Detention Center in Alexandra, Virginia, where the Republican strategist's first of two scheduled federal criminal trials is due to start July 25.
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In a Washington, D.C., court filing in which he described his jailing, Manafort had said he is kept in solitary confinement 23 hours a day.
The prosecution begged to differ, citing the 300-plus calls Manafort made to his attorneys and several others over the past three weeks. Since then, Manafort's lawyers have said they can not properly prepare for a trial scheduled to start later this month with a client jailed two hours outside of Washington, D.C.
But Ellis had apparently made up his mind.
Ellis brushed aside those worries in a new order, saying that officials at the federal lockup in Alexandria have experience handling inmates such as "foreign and domestic terrorists, spies and traitors".
"It is surprising and confusing when counsel identifies a problem and then opposes the most logical solution to that problem", wrote Judge Ellis.
But Manafort's legal team didn't complain until the last minute, the USA said. He has a telephone and laptop with an extension cord and doesn't have to wear a prison jumpsuit.
Prosecutors also said Manafort knew his refusal to let the Virginia bank and tax-fraud charges be combined with the D.C. case would likely lead to this schedule.
The court document claims Manafort has "unique privileges" at the Warsaw jail. In the meantime, he said Manafort would be moved from the Northern Neck to the jail in Alexandria, in suburban Washington, "to ensure that the defendant has access to his counsel and can adequately prepare his defense".