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Mueller Seeks Immunity for Witnesses   07/18 06:13

   The special counsel in the Russia investigation is seeking immunity for five 
potential witnesses in the upcoming trial of President Donald Trump's former 
campaign chairman, Paul Manafort.

   WASHINGTON (AP) -- The special counsel in the Russia investigation is 
seeking immunity for five potential witnesses in the upcoming trial of 
President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort.

   The five individuals have indicated that they won't testify or provide other 
information "on the basis of their privilege against self-incrimination," 
special counsel Robert Mueller's office told a federal judge in Virginia in a 
court filing Tuesday.

   As a result, prosecutors are asking a judge to compel their testimony, under 
a condition of immunity, at Manafort's upcoming bank and tax fraud trial. They 
are requesting what is known as "use immunity," which would mean prosecutors 
could not use the witnesses' testimony against them unless they were to make 
false statements.

   Prosecutors did not name the potential witnesses, who have not been charged, 
because they have not been publicly identified as being involved in the case.

   Motions providing more information about them were filed under seal, and 
prosecutors asked a judge to leave the information that way unless and until 
the witnesses are called to testify.

   The Manafort trial, the first arising from Mueller's investigation into 
potential coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign, is expected to 
start next week.

   Also Tuesday, U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III denied Manafort's request 
to move the trial from Alexandria, in the Washington, D.C., region, 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 Tuesday, 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.


(KA)

 
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