Manafort Attorney Seeks to Keep Documents Under Seal

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (CN) – An attorney for Paul Manafort asked a federal judge Friday to keep several documents under seal while he considered whether to toss criminal charges against the former Trump campaign chairman.

The request was entered in a federal court in Virginia, one of two venues where Manafort will stand trial later this year, by Manafort attorney Kevin Downing.

The documents Downing would like kept under seal include warrants, affidavits, return slips, inventory lists and lease agreements, are already redacted in part, that were filed along with an April 30 memorandum.

“While the defendant filed redacted exhibits as a procedure short of sealing that would suffice to protect the defendant’s privacy in accordance with Local Criminal Rule 49, the defendant seeks to provide the Court with the fullest possible context for the motions by seeking leave to file these exhibits under seal and free of defense redactions,” Downing wrote.

Some of the exhibits still bear the Office of Special Counse’s redactions, Downing notes, since “the parties are currently litigating the defendants motion to compel [Special Counsel] to turn over unredacted search and seizure warrant affidavits”

The request comes on the heels of last week’s motion hearing where federal judge T.S. Ellis III considered Downing’s plea to dismiss the indictment against Manafort.

Downing argued that counts of bank and tax fraud in the indictment against the former Trump campaign chair were not associated with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling of the 2016 election and therefore, exhibited overreach by Mueller and the man who put Mueller on the probe: deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein.

Last week, Ellis expressed his own skepticism that the special counsel was not using Manafort as a way to get information on President Donald Trump.

“I don’t see what the relation is … none of the information [in the indictment] has anything to do with the Russian government or the Trump campaign because all of the allegations long predate any contact [Manafort had] with the campaign,” Ellis said at a hearing on May 4.

Manafort is currently scheduled to stand trial in Virginia beginning July 10.

In other Manafort-related news, he’s asked the judges presiding over both his cases for permission to attend his grandson’s baptism on May 19.

The brief 2-page filing in each court to modify the conditions of his release notes that the special counsel’s office does not object to the request.

“The baptism of his grandson is of course an important religious and family event (Mr. Manafort is also an honorary godparent of his grandson),” the filing says.

Manafort said he will travel to the baptism by car from his residence in Arlington, Va. and will return home by 5 p.m. that day, after attending a reception at a private residence.

Britain Eakin contributed to this report.

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