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Judge grants immunity to 5 witnesses, delays Manafort trial

By Danielle Haynes
Judge grants immunity to 5 witnesses, delays Manafort trial
Former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort is seeking to have his trial in Virginia delayed; it is scheduled to begin this week. File Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

July 23 (UPI) -- A federal judge on Monday granted special counsel Robert Mueller's request to give immunity to five witnesses testifying in the Virginia-based trial of Paul Manafort, which he delayed until next week.

Though he granted the immunity, Judge T.S. Ellis of the U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of Virginia denied the prosecution's request to protect the identity of the witnesses.

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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.

In a separate ruling, Ellis agreed to delay the start of the trial until July 31 upon request of Manafort's lawyers. It was scheduled to start this week.

The former Trump campaign manager is accused of lying to banks about his business income in order to get more than $20 million in loans.

The indictment says Manafort and business associate Rick Gates passed money they received from Ukraine through foreign bank accounts to conceal it from the Internal Revenue Service. The charges include preparing false tax returns, bank fraud, conspiracy to commit bank fraud and failure to disclose income from foreign sources.

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Manafort has pleaded not guilty to the charges and denied wrongdoing. He sought to have his trial moved south to Roanoke, saying keeping it in the D.C. area would threaten his ability to get a fair trial. Ellis denied that request last week.

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