ALEXANDRIA, Va. (CN) – A federal judge said Monday he will push back the start of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort's trial on multiple fraud charges six days, and that he will grant immunity to five witnesses scheduled to testify for the prosecution.
The five witnesses granted immunity Monday are James Brennan, Donna Duggan, Conor O"Brien, Cindy Laporta and Dennis Raico, all of whom are connected to financial institutions.
Manafort's trial in Virginia was scheduled to begin on Wednesday. It now will not start until July 31, in order to give the Manafort defense team more time to prepare.
“There are equities and good reason on both sides to postpone the start of trial,” U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III said Monday afternoon. “We’ll wait approximately one week and then we’ll go ahead.”
In the meantime, Ellis will move forward with jury selection Tuesday despite the delay.
He also said he will unseal a variety of government documents in evidence and has requested special counsel provide a definitive list of 30 witnesses who will testify later at Manafort’s trial.
Manafort, who appeared in court Monday for the first time since he was put in detention, donned a dark green jumpsuit and rumpled white t-shirt.
Once seated, defense attorney Kevin Downing wasted little time asking Judge Ellis to continue the trial beyond its scheduled start date of July 25.
Thousands of pages of evidence, namely documents the government obtained on Rick Gates’ iPad, iPhone and laptops, have not yet been reviewed by the defense, Downing said, and a continuance is needed.
Attorney Kevin Downing said 120,000 new pages of documents have been turned over to defense since July 6. More than 70,000 come from Gates’ devices, but prosecutor Uzo Asonye said many of the documents were merely photos, internet search results and data from applications used on a cell phone belonging to Gates.
“I’m not sure what looking at those pictures will do for their case,” Asonye said.
Plus, there are roughly 49,000 pages – amounting to some 20,000 documents – from Manafort’s accounting firm, NKSFB, their team has not yet seen, he claims.
Ellis seemed surprised the information from NKSFB was never provided to Downing by Manafort’s previous representation at the firm Wilmer Cutler Pickering.
“We thought we would get it in discovery, your honor. We thought it would be a lot cheaper,” Downing said.
“No. It just depends how you calculate dollars and cents,” Ellis said.
Before deciding whether Downing needs more time, Ellis called a brief recess Monday to consider the matter.
Regarding Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s motion to reject Manafort’s request to exclude evidence related to his lobbying work for Ukrainian president Victor Yanukovych, the judge said Monday he would make his decisions on a case-by- case basis. He also asked to see any evidence related to Ukraine first before making a ruling on its usability.
Ellis also said Trump could be mentioned by name during trial, but only in connection with a specific bank loan Manafort received currently in question.
On a related note, Special Counsel Robert Mueller asked Ellis in a motion filed Sunday to reject former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort’s request to exclude evidence related to his lobbying work for Ukrainian president Victor Yanukovych.