The trial of former Trump campaign chairperson for the Eastern District of Virginia begins on July 25. He is accused of 18 charges of bank fraud and foreign bank account charges. If found guilty, he could face a prison sentence of more than 300 years. He is currently in Alexandria, Virginia, for alleged witness falsification after losing his bail in a separate criminal case.
Special Adviser Robert Mueller asked the judge on Tuesday to sign the immunity for five unidentified witnesses against whom a statement is to be made. Manafort will begin next week.
Granting that means that the testimony could not be used in later lawsuits against them.
Mueller does not yet disclose the names of the witnesses at this time in order to avoid "danger of excessive harassment "and because the details could lead to reputational damage on a proposal from the prosecutor's office"
Theoretically, the move prevents the witnesses from immunity from claiming their fifth amendment rights and from keeping silent on certain statements against Manafort.
Müller s The witnesses were not publicly identified in the case. Also, they were not charged, said Mueller's office.
Stay in place
The case will not be moved to Roanoke, Judge T.S. Ellis said after Manafort and his lawyers asked to ban the case from Alexandria to the southwestern city of Virginia
Manafort had argued that he could not have a fair trial in Alexandria because it was in Washington. In particular, he feared the political trumps policy and the intense media climate in the region. The people around Roanoke were less close to his situation and less politically charged.
But Ellis said that would not be the case once a jury was selected. The lawyers and the judge will have the opportunity to dispel possible prejudice from juries in Alexandria during the jury's election next week. Manafort's 12-member jury, plus proxies, will benefit from the nearly 3 million people in Northern Virginia, including areas with more conservative constituents.
"Nationwide press coverage of the defendant's trial will continue from now to the end of the trial, and may continue. The proximity of the defendant's press campaign to the start of his trial will be the same in Alexandria as in Roanoke or Kansas City or Dallas Ellis wrote in a decree refusing Manafort's motion to postpone the process.  Ellis also wrote that the political orientation of an area should not affect the site of the negotiation. "It would be unreasonable for courts to conduct legal proceedings across the country in such cases until a district was found where the political views of one defendant were shared by at least as many people in the district as those with opposite views."
Manafort has also asked to postpone the process until the fall or later. Ellis has not made a decision about it yet.