Manafort Trial Start Delayed; Witnesses With Immunity Identified

(Bloomberg) -- The trial set to begin this week for Paul Manafort, President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman, was delayed until July 31 by a judge who separately granted immunity to five witnesses who said they would have remained silent without the protection.

U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III on Monday pushed back Manafort’s bank- and tax-fraud trial after defense lawyers complained they didn’t have enough time to review 120,000 pages of documents they received this month from prosecutors. The judge also agreed to provide immunity from prosecution to James Brennan, Dennis Raico, Cindy Laporta, Donna Duggan and Conor O’Brien.

Both O’Brien and Laporta work for the accounting firm of Kositzka, Wicks and Company, according to the firm’s website. KWC was Manafort’s accounting firm, according to a person familiar with the matter.

A message left with the accounting firm wasn’t immediately returned.

Defense attorney Kevin Downing said in a hearing that many of the documents related to Rick Gates, Manafort’s right-hand man who pleaded guilty and is cooperating with prosecutors. He’s expected to be the star witness for Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

“This is the heart of the case,” Downing said in federal court in Alexandria, Virginia. “I would consider these to be very important items for us to look at before the trial.”

The trial had been scheduled to start with jury selection July 25.

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