June 21 (UPI) — Special counsel Robert Mueller filed a motion Thursday for a judge in Paul Manafort’s Virginia trial to authorize a jury survey to weed out potential media bias.
The motion, which asks the federal court in the trial against Trump’s former campaign manager, to allow prospective jurors to fill out a written questionnaire about pretrial publicity.
Manafort has been indicted in two federal courts on charges stemming from Mueller’s probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
He faces seven criminal charges in Washington, D.C., federal court and another 18 criminal charges in Virginia. Among the D.C. charges, Manafort is accused of money laundering and conspiracy — bank fraud and filing false tax returns in Virginia.
Manafort was initially placed under house arrest after he pleaded not guilty in October, but a federal judge sent him to jail last week citing new obstruction charges, including witness tampering.
Mueller’s motion says he is concerned potential jurors could have “pre-formed opinions” based on the swarm of media attention in the case, which he fears will only grow worse as the trial date gets closer.
Further, it states “the reporting, at times inaccurately, comments on the nature of the evidence collected in the case or activities of the parties.”
The filing includes 52 questions to potential jurors, including one asking if they’ve had media exposure to reports on the Russia investigation and Manafort.
The questionnaire would be a supplement to the normal voir dire process. Jurors would also be asked what sort of media outlets they read or listen to, and if they would be able to remain impartial.
Manafort’s trial date is set for July 25.