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Paul Manafort set to make first appearance in Virginia court

Andrew Harnik | AP
Andrew Harnik | AP
Paul Manafort, President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman, leaves Federal District Court, in Washington, Nov. 2, 2017.
Rachel Weiner, The Washington Post

Donald Trump’s former campaign manager is set to make his first appearance in Alexandria, Virginia, federal court Thursday, where he faces tax and fraud charges brought by the special counsel investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Paul J. Manafort last week pleaded not guilty in a related case in Washington, D.C., where he is set to go to trial Sept. 17. He was indicted in Virginia, where he lives, the week prior.

Manafort’s former business partner, Rick Gates, pleaded guilty in D.C. to conspiracy and lying to the FBI. At the request of prosecutors, charges have been dropped against Gates in Virginia, though they could be resurrected should he fail to live up to his plea agreement.

That agreement requires him to offer information on any matters that Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III deems relevant.

Both indictments accuse Manafort of hiding the work he did for and the money he made from a Russia-friendly political party in Ukraine and former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych. In Virginia, Manafort is accused of hiding foreign bank accounts, falsifying his income taxes and failing to report foreign bank accounts.

In Washington, he faces counts of conspiracy to launder more than $30 million, making false statements, failing to follow lobbying disclosure laws and working as an unregistered foreign agent.

Manafort also faces bank fraud charges in Virginia not directly related to his work in Ukraine. After his business there dried up, according to prosecutors, Manafort fraudulently secured over $20 million in loans in part by using his real estate as collateral.

Manafort is innocent of the Virginia charges, his spokesman Jason Maloni said in a statement after the indictment was announced.

“The new allegations against Mr. Manafort, once again, have nothing to do with Russia and 2016 election interference/collusion,” the statement said. “Mr. Manafort is confident that he will be acquitted and violations of his constitutional rights will be remedied.”

If convicted of bank fraud in Virginia, Manafort faces up to 270 years in prison, but prosecutors say federal sentencing guidelines call for much less time: four to five years. He faces up to 15 years on the charges of filing false tax returns and up to 20 years on the charges of failing to report foreign bank accounts. Guidelines call for about eight to 10 years, though.

Manafort will appear before Judge T.S. Ellis III, a senior judge appointed by President Ronald Reagan in 1987. The hearing is set for 1 p.m.

Manafort had been set to appear in Virginia this past Friday, but that hearing was delayed because of a severe windstorm in the D.C. area that closed government buildings.

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