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Paul Manafort's Virginia trial delayed two weeks

FILE -- Paul Manafort, center, President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman, arrives with his wife Kathleen Manafort, for his arraignment hearing at the federal courthouse in Alexandria, Va., March 8, 2018. A lawyer for President Trump broached the idea of Trump pardoning two of his former top advisers, Michael Flynn and Paul Manafort, with their lawyers last year, according to three people with knowledge of the discussions (Al Drago/The New York Times/Copyright 2018)

The first of two federal trials for former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort this year has been delayed two weeks because the judge has a personal conflict.

Alexandria, Virginia-based U.S. District Court Judge T.S. Ellis said in an order Friday that he cannot begin trial July 10, "owing to a family member's medical procedure." Instead the trial will begin July 24.

Manafort faces bank and tax fraud charges in Alexandria that stem from his work for a pro-Russian political party in the Ukraine. The trial is the first that will be handled by the special counsel investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election. Five people have already pleaded guilty as part of the probe.

Manafort also faces trial in D.C. federal court Sept. 17 on related charges. In both cases, he has aggressively fought the involvement of the special counsel, arguing that his alleged crimes had nothing to do with President Trump or his campaign.

Ellis pursued that concern during a court hearing last month, questioning attorneys for special counsel Robert Mueller on the connection and suggesting they brought the charges only so Manafort would provide information on the president.

Manafort also has claimed that members of the special counsel may have leaked information to the press that would bias the jury in the upcoming trial. A hearing on that and other issues is scheduled for June 8.

Author information: Rachel Weiner tries to cover Alexandria's federal court from a small windowless room with no cellphone access. 

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