Trump's ex-aide Manafort in bid to delay USA fraud trial

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The accusation of the banker's knowledge of the allegedly fraudulent loan came in questioning by U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis, who is presiding over the case against Manafort in Virginia, where trial will begin next week.

Former U.S. attorney Joyce Alene tweeted that Ellis likely agreed to the delay because he "wants to make sure Manafort has had enough time to prepare so there are no gounds [sic] for appeal if there is a conviction".

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, a longtime Republican operative and businessman, appeared in court for the hearing in a green prison jumpsuit. Alex Van der Zwaan, a lawyer who once worked closely with Manafort and Gates, has also pleaded guilty and has been sentenced.

Numerous documents came from devices owned by Rick Gates, Manafort's longtime partner who has pleaded guilty and is cooperating with prosecutors.

"There are equities and reasons on both sides", Ellis said Monday, explaining his decision.

Mueller's team requested the immunity Friday, saying the witnesses refused to testify or would refuse to answer certain questions if not given the protection.

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"The fact that you're not using something does not mean it's not usable by the defense", Ellis responded.

Manafort joined the campaign of then-candidate Donald Trump in March 2016 and served as the campaign manager from June to August that year. "He did", prosecutor Greg Andres replied.

While the defense has sought to restrict prosecutors from associating Manafort with the Trump campaign, the judge said he would allow some limited references. Ellis denied that request last week.

"I don't anticipate that a government witness will utter the word 'Russia", Andres said.

In two criminal cases brought by the special counsel, Manafort has been charged with money laundering and tax evasion, among other things.

He said his mother's family grew up in a shtetl, or a Jewish community, in a part of Russian Federation that saw its borders change repeatedly.

"They populated the Balkans, they populated the Baltics", Ellis said.

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