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Trump Ex-Campaign Chairman Asks To Relocate Trial, Citing Negative Publicity

Paul Manafort arrives for a hearing at U.S. District Court in Washington on June 15.

Lawyers for U.S. President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, have asked a judge to relocate a criminal trial starting later this month, arguing that his case might be tainted by pretrial publicity in Washington.

The financial crimes trial of Manafort is scheduled to start July 25 in Alexandria, Virginia, just outside Washington. But his lawyers argued in court papers on July 6 that it would be impossible for Manafort to receive a fair trial there because of the intense Washington media coverage surrounding his case.

Manafort's case is one of the most important to come out of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

Citing the sixth amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which guarantees the right to trial by an impartial jury, the lawyers asked for the trial to be relocated to the more sparsely populated city of Roanoke in southwestern Virginia.

The lawyers said that the Washington region ranks first in the nation in households with computers and Internet access, but "Roanoke is the 70th-largest media outlet in the United States and 38 percent of households in Roanoke lack broadband compared to 3 percent in northern Virginia."

A Google search for news articles about "Russian collusion" turned up nearly 3 million results, and thousands of the articles focused on Manafort, with most portraying him in an unfavorable light, the lawyers argued.

In addition, they said, people in the Alexandria region who could be selected as jurors in the case voted 2-1 in favor of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, Trump's opponent. They said "this split is more balanced" in Roanoke.

The lawyers also asked again for Manafort's release from jail, saying he is being held in solitary confinement in circumstances that are making it hard for him to prepare for his defense.

Based on reporting by AP and Reuters