U.S. judge agrees five Manafort trial witnesses may testify with immunity

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A federal judge in Alexandria, Virginia, has granted the request for five witnesses to testify with immunity in the criminal trial of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis II will grant immunity to several witnesses and unseal certain documents entered as evidence in the case.

Downing said the defense also only recently received 40,000 pages of documents from the phones and computer of Richard Gates, Manafort's ex-business partner. Alex Van der Zwaan, a lawyer who once worked closely with Manafort and Gates, has also pleaded guilty and has been sentenced.

Despite a request by Mueller to keep the name private until they testify, Ellis made them public - James Brennan, Donna Duggan, Conor O'Brien, Cindy Laporta and Dennis Raico.

The court will proceed with jury questionnaires Tuesday and begin jury selection on July 31.

"I don't think, to my knowledge, there are any exculpatory pictures in this case", he said.

Ellis said he'll allow prosecutors to mention Manafort's role on the Trump campaign, but only as it relates to a banker who allegedly sought to secure a role on the campaign in exchange for loans. Manafort is also scheduled to go to trial in the special counsel's case against him in Washington, DC, in September.

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

"We'll try to do it in a discrete way", said Greg Andres, one of Mueller's prosecutors.

Manafort must defend himself against charges ranging from bank fraud to failing to register as a foreign agent for lobbying work he performed on behalf of Viktor Yanukovych, the former pro-Russia president of Ukraine.

Although the charges did not reference the Trump campaign or the 2016 election, legal experts have said they put more pressure on former Trump aides to cooperate with Mueller as he looks into whether Russian Federation tried to influence the election in favour of Trump by hacking the emails of leading Democrats and distributing disinformation and propaganda online. "You really care about what information Mr. Manafort can give you to lead you to Mr. Trump and an impeachment, or whatever".

"These 120,000 pages are really at the heart of the issue", Manafort lawyer Kevin Downing argued Monday.