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Judge delays Virginia sentencing in Paul Manafort’s tax and bank fraud case

Judge delays Virginia sentencing in Paul Manafort’s tax and bank fraud case
A booking photo of Paul Manafort, President Trump’s former campaign chairman, provided by the Alexandria Detention Center in Virginia. Manafort’s sentencing hearing on tax and bank fraud convictions has been delayed. (Alexandria Detention Center)

A federal judge in Virginia has delayed Paul Manafort’s sentencing on tax and bank fraud convictions until a dispute over his cooperation with the special counsel’s office is resolved.

Manafort’s sentencing hearing in federal court in Alexandria had been set for Feb. 8. A new date has not been scheduled.

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The postponement was sparked by allegations made by prosecutors in Manafort’s related case in federal court in the District of Columbia, where the former Trump campaign chairman pleaded guilty to crimes related to his undisclosed lobbying work. The office of Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III said Manafort lied repeatedly to both the FBI and a grand jury after committing to offer truthful information. Manafort, 69, has maintained that he made honest mistakes he did his best to correct.

“It appears that resolution of the current dispute in defendant’s prosecution in the District of Columbia may have some effect on the sentencing decision in this case; it is prudent and appropriate to delay sentencing in this case until the dispute in the D.C. case is resolved,” U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis said in an order Monday.

Manafort’s D.C. judge, Amy Berman Jackson, has scheduled a closed-door hearing for Monday to hear detailed evidence of the alleged lies. At a hearing last week, she said some of the government’s claims are “confusing or lack context,” while some of Manafort’s responses were “conclusory and short on specifics.”

Much of the substance at issue remains under seal, although an accidentally unredacted filing made by Manafort’s attorneys shed some light on the conflict. According to the special counsel, Manafort lied about sharing presidential campaign polling data with Konstantin Kilimnik, an associate the FBI has said has ties to Russian intelligence. Manafort also lied about discussing a Ukrainian peace plan with Kilimnik during the 2016 campaign, prosecutors allege, and about having ongoing contact with administration officials after Trump took office.

Finally, prosecutors say Manafort lied about a $125,000 wire transfer in 2017.

Manafort has said through his attorneys that he simply misremembered details of events that happened several years ago, many of them in the middle of a chaotic presidential campaign he helped lead.

In Virginia, a jury found Manafort guilty of eight fraud-related crimes, and he faces decades in prison, although legal experts estimate a sentence of seven to 10 years. In D.C., Manafort pleaded guilty to two conspiracy crimes, capping any potential sentence at 10 years. But Jackson said she would consider Manafort’s honesty in deciding whether or not to make her sentence consecutive or concurrent to any punishment he receives in Virginia.

As part of his D.C. plea deal, Manafort admitted he was guilty of 10 charges on which his Virginia jury could not agree. Prosecutors have said they could bring back those charges at any time, along with those dismissed in D.C. They could also charge him with fresh crimes of lying to the FBI or obstruction of justice, prosecutor Andrew Weissmann said in court last week.

Rachel Weiner writes for the Washington Post.

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