Roanoke Valley Broadband Authority reacts to Manafort court filing

    In this July 17, 2016, file photo, then-Donald Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort talks to reporters on the floor of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. A firm headed by Manafort received more than $1.2 million in payments that correspond to entries in a handwritten ledger tied to a pro-Russian political party in Ukraine, according to financial records obtained by The Associated Press. The payments between 2007 and 2009 are the first evidence that Manafort's consulting firm received funds listed in the so-called Black Ledger, which Ukrainian investigators have been investigating as evidence of off-the-books payments from the Ukrainian Party of Regions. THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
    ROANOKE, Va. (WSET) -- Roanoke is abuzz with the news that Paul Manafort's trial could come to Roanoke.Manafort served as then-candidate Donald Trump's campaign manager for 3 months, and under investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller was indicted on various charges, including criminal bank and tax fraud.

    Manafort's trial is set to being in Alexandria on July 25, but Friday Manafort's lawyers asked for that to be postponed and also relocated to Roanoke. In the motion, they cited two reasons they wanted the trial moved from Northern Virginia to Roanoke.The first- because some areas of the Western District of Virginia don't have access to broadband internet, people won't have heard about the case.

    Frank Smith, the President and CEO of the Roanoke Valley Broadband Authority says that isn't true. Passionately, Smith said, "We haven't seen anything in the data that suggests that the Roanoke Valley is more limited to news than those that reside in the Beltway."Smith then explained he lived in the Beltway for more than a decade and that the Roanoke Valley Broadband Authority has been in the area for more than 18 years. He pointed out, "We're informed, we're active and so it the rest of our community. So, I'm not sure where they get that information, but if you do a fact check, it's absolutely wrong."The second reason Manafort's lawyers requested a change of venue was to find a jury pool with more Republicans than might be on a Northern Virginia trial.While the decision is up to the judge, often judges will attempt to seat a jury before ruling on a change of venue. In high-profile cases, judges often explain to the jury it is okay if they have heard about the case, however, they have to be able to set that aside and make a decision based solely on the facts given in the trial. Currently, a hearing date for this motion has not been scheduled.

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