Judge grants immunity for 5 Mueller witnesses as Manafort seeks trial delay

Paul Manafort and Robert Mueller

US District Judge T.S. Ellis is also ordering the government to tell Manafort's team the almost 30 witnesses they are going to use in the trial.

Ellis said he had conferred with prosecutors and agreed to compel five anonymous witnesses to testify at the trial, and Mueller's office has agreed to grant them immunity from prosecution.

A large portion of Monday's hearing was dedicated to discussing a "data dump" of tens of thousands of pages of documents over the past month by the government.

Manafort, who appeared in a rumpled green jumpsuit and wire-rim glasses, had waived other recent in-person court appearances because he had been held at a jail two hours from the Alexandria courthouse. Manafort pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Defense attorney Kevin Downing said in a hearing that numerous documents related to Rick Gates, Manafort's right-hand man who pleaded guilty and is cooperating with prosecutors.

"We're not going to get into how people voted. of course people can be fair no matter who they voted for", Ellis said.

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In all, the government is expected to call about 30 witnesses in the case.

The contours of Manafort's upcoming trial became clearer as Ellis weighed in on what arguments could be made before jurors and what type of information could be presented. "He did", prosecutor Greg Andres replied.

Manafort's lawyers also sought to prevent prosecutors from talking about alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government.

While the defense has sought to restrict prosecutors from associating Manafort with the Trump campaign, the judge said he would allow some limited references. Though his attorneys have tried to delay his trial and move him to other jurisdictions, judges have consistently denied his requests.

Manafort is also facing a separate federal prosecution in Washington; his trial there is set to take place later this year. He's charged with conspiracy to launder money, conspiracy against the United States, failing to file financial disclosures for foreign bank accounts, failing to register as an agent of a foreign principal, and making false statements in Washington, D.C. However, he also faces lesser-publicized charges of bank and tax fraud in the Eastern District of Virginia.

Ellis even mentioned Russia's controversial annexation of Crimea, a territory of Ukraine.

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