FEATURED:

Manafort to be sentenced in Virginia in February

Manafort to be sentenced in Virginia in February

A federal judge on Friday ordered Paul ManafortPaul John ManafortMueller targets Stone in final push 5 things to know about new acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker New acting AG once criticized idea of special counsel MORE to be sentenced on Feb. 8 for a series of financial charges he was convicted of in August.

Judge T.S. Ellis III also agreed to expedite the preparation of Manafort’s presentence report, after his attorneys requested he do so, citing “significant issues” with Manafort’s health. And Ellis moved to dismiss the 10 counts on which the jury could not come to a decision in August.

ADVERTISEMENT

Manafort appeared in court on Friday alongside his attorneys. He wore a prison jumpsuit that read “Alexandria inmate” and was brought in in a wheelchair.

But there is no end in sight for the former Trump campaign chairman’s cooperation in special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE’s Russia investigation.

A jury convicted Manafort on eight counts of bank and tax fraud in August but deadlocked on 10 remaining counts, in a case stemming from Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Manafort struck a plea deal with Mueller last month to avert a second federal trial in D.C., and in a major turning point for the investigation agreed to cooperate with the special counsel.

As part of the deal, prosecutors agreed to delay his sentencing in Virginia and dismiss the 10 remaining counts until after he is done cooperating or is sentenced — whichever comes last.

Ellis, who presided over Manafort’s Virginia trial, wasn’t happy with that arrangement, calling it “highly unusual” in an order last week and summoning representatives for Mueller and Manafort back in court on Friday. 

“This court is not bound by that agreement,” said Ellis, from the bench about 1:30 p.m. Friday. “Typically, I don’t do that, and I don’t want to treat this case differently than any other case.”

Mueller’s team did not protest Ellis’s decision to dismiss the 10 outstanding counts "without prejudice,” meaning the charges could be filed again in the future, on Friday. 

Ellis ordered pretrial services to begin preparing the presentence investigation report, which will guide the judge on how to sentence Manafort in the case when the Feb. 8 sentencing arrives.

Manafort faces a maximum of 80 years in prison for the crimes but is expected to be sentenced to much less based on federal sentencing guidelines. 

These reports typically take 60-90 days to complete, though Ellis said he would ask that it be expedited at Manafort’s attorney’s request.

“We do think there are significant issues with Mr. Manafort’s health right now,” said Kevin Downing, Manafort’s lead attorney. Downing added that expediting the sentencing process would get Manafort out of the “conditions that he’s in now.” Manafort was moved to federal prison in Alexandria in July.

Manafort, his attorneys and prosecutors with the special counsel’s office are due back in Alexandria court at 9 a.m. on Feb. 8.

Meanwhile, Manafort continues to cooperate in Mueller’s sprawling investigation into Russian interference and possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Moscow.

Manafort, who worked on the campaign for five months before stepping down from his role in August 2016, is seen as a key cooperator in Mueller’s investigation.

Manafort was one of three Trump aides to participate in the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting with a Russian lawyer said to possess damaging information on Democratic presidential nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonOvernight Defense — Presented by Raytheon — First lady's office pushes for ouster of national security aide | Trump taps retired general as ambassador to Saudis | Mattis to visit border troops | Record number of female veterans to serve in Congress Election Countdown: Lawsuits fly in Florida recount fight | Nelson pushes to extend deadline | Judge says Georgia county violated Civil Rights Act | Biden, Sanders lead 2020 Dem field in poll | Bloomberg to decide on 2020 by February What midterm exit polls tell us about 2020 MORE.

Mueller’s investigation has pressed on quietly behind the scenes amid massive public attention. There has been no end date set for the probe but Trump and his allies have urged its swift end. The president has long protested the probe, accusing Mueller of running a “witch hunt” against him.

On Friday, Ellis said Mueller’s prosecutors had given the judge no indication of when Manafort’s cooperation would end.

“I have not heard from the government an estimate on when the cooperation will be completed,” Ellis said. “I’m not willing to go on endlessly in that regard.”