Judge denies Manafort bid to suppress evidence seized in condo raid
Reaction from Alan Dershowitz, Harvard Law professor and author of 'The Case Against Impeaching Trump.'
A federal judge in Washington on Wednesday declined a request by former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort to suppress evidence seized from his Virginia condominium last year as part of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation.
In her ruling, U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson rejected claims by Manafort's lawyers that the search warrant was "unconstitutionally overbroad."
"Given the nature of the investigation, the [federal search] warrant was not too broad in scope," Jackson wrote, "and the affidavit set forth sufficient grounds to believe that there would be relevant material on the premises ..."
Federal agents raided the Alexandria residence on July 26 of last year, seizing financial documents, two computers, multiple thumb and external hard drives, an iPod, two iPads and an iPhone.
Manafort is accused of multiple financial crimes in connection with lobbying work he performed for a pro-Russian party in Ukraine. The first of his two upcoming trials, in Virginia, is scheduled to begin next week.
On Tuesday, Mueller's office asked the judge in the Virginia trial to compel five potential witnesses to testify under a condition of immunity. Prosecutors are requesting what is known as "use immunity," which would mean the witnesses' testimony could not be used against them unless they were to make false statements.
In a court filing, Mueller's office told U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III that the five unidentified people have indicated they would neither testify nor provide other information "on the basis of their privilege against self-incrimination."
Also Tuesday, Ellis denied Manafort's request to move the trial from Alexandria, in suburban Washington D.C., to the more sparsely populated southwestern Virginia city of Roanoke.
Manafort's lawyers said extensive pretrial news media coverage in the Washington region had interfered with Manafort's right to a fair trial. They also said the population in the northern Virginia area where the Alexandria jury pool would be drawn from voted heavily in favor of Democrat Hillary Clinton over Trump in the 2016 presidential election.
But Ellis rejected that argument, saying media attention in the case would be the same in Alexandria "as it would be in Roanoke or Kansas City or Dallas."
He said there was no evidence that potential jurors in the region were politically biased, and that in any event, jurors' political leanings by themselves aren't evidence that they can't fairly consider a case.
"It would be inappropriate for courts to move trials around the country in cases of this sort until a district could be found where a defendant's political views were shared by at least as many persons in the district as those with contrary views," Ellis wrote.
Fox News' Jake Gibson and The Associated Press contributed to this report.