May 22, 2019
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Manafort lawyers to return to court

Jose Luis Magana | AP
Jose Luis Magana | AP
Paul Manafort, President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman, leaves the Federal District Court after a hearing, in Washington, May 23, 2018.

Lawyers for former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort are set to return to federal court Friday morning for the first time since special counsel prosecutors accused him Monday of repeatedly lying to investigators and breaking his plea agreement.

Manafort, 69, denied being intentionally untruthful, but his defense attorneys and prosecutors with special counsel Robert Mueller both asked U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson to immediately set a sentencing date in a blockbuster joint filing late Monday.

Manafort, who is jailed in Alexandria, waived his right to appear in court in Washington and is not expected to be there.

Under a plea agreement in September, Manafort pledged to tell the government about “his participation in and knowledge of all criminal activities,” in exchange for prosecutors’ recommendation of leniency after he admitted cheating the Internal Revenue Service, violating foreign-lobbying laws and attempting to obstruct justice.

The plea deal on the eve of his federal trial in Washington called for Manafort to face a maximum of 10 years — or less if prosecutors asked and a judge agreed to lower it in return for his cooperation in the case — and does not count a sentence for his August conviction in Virginia on charges of bank and tax fraud.

In the joint filing this week, prosecutors alleged Manafort breached his agreement, committing “federal crimes by lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Special Counsel’s Office on a variety of subject matters” in their investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election. They did not elaborate, but said they would detail “the nature of the defendant’s crimes and lies” in a future sentencing document. They added that Manafort’s actions relieved the government of any obligation to seek less prison time.

Manafort denied lying or violating the deal.

Given their deadlock, the two sides jointly asked Jackson to set a sentencing date and schedule any other motions, which led to Friday’s hearing.

The plea agreement states that if prosecutors show in good faith that Manafort breached its terms, he may not seek to withdraw his guilty plea.

The agreement in the case in Washington also states that if Manafort violated the deal, he could face prosecution for crimes to which he did not plead guilty, and that all his statements could be used against him by other parties, including state prosecutors, in criminal or civil proceedings.

If Manafort is found to have broken the deal, he would lose any sentencing credits for acceptance of responsibility, prosecutors said.

Evidence of other crimes could also subject Manafort to an increase in his sentence for convictions in Virginia for tax and bank fraud. His sentencing in that case is set for Feb. 8 before U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III.

In Monday’s filing, Manafort’s attorneys wrote that he believed he had been truthful and “has provided information to the government in an effort to live up to his cooperation obligations.”

Manafort joined Trump’s campaign in March 2016 and served as its chairman into August, making him a top campaign official present during discussions of events at the heart of Mueller’s inquiry to determine if any Americans conspired with Russia’s efforts to influence the election.

The terms of Manafort’s cooperation were laid out in a 17-page agreement entered Sept. 14 in Washington when he pleaded guilty to conspiring to defraud the United States by hiding years of income and undisclosed lobbying work for a pro-Russian political party and politician in Ukraine. He also pleaded guilty to conspiring to obstruct justice by attempting to tamper with witnesses in the case.

 



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