Judge sets Tuesday hearing in Manafort case

A federal judge has scheduled a hearing Tuesday in another step toward deciding whether Paul ManafortPaul John ManafortUkraine could badly damage both Donald Trump and the Democrats Lewandowski refuses to say whether Trump has offered him a pardon Democrats return to a battered Trump MORE should be declared in breach of his plea agreement after special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerLewandowski says Mueller report was 'very clear' in proving 'there was no obstruction,' despite having 'never' read it Fox's Cavuto roasts Trump over criticism of network Mueller report fades from political conversation MORE accused him of lying about his contacts with White House officials.

Judge Amy Berman Jackson has ordered Manafort’s defense attorneys and Mueller’s prosecutors to appear for a status conference at 3 p.m. Tuesday. 

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The hearing comes in lieu of the Wednesday deadline that Manafort’s lawyers faced to respond to the special counsel’s report laying out the onetime Trump campaign chairman’s alleged lies, which included concealing direct and indirect interactions with White House officials that occurred as recently as this year. Manafort claims he told the truth and did not violate the terms of his agreement, his lawyers wrote in an earlier filing. 

Should Manafort wish to decline to appear in court as he has done previously, he will need to do so by filing a waiver. Jackson originally scheduled the hearing for 10 a.m. Wednesday, but Manafort's attorneys asked that it be moved up. 

The hearing is sure to be the latest flashpoint in Manafort’s case. 

Manafort, who was convicted on eight federal fraud charges in Virginia in August, pleaded guilty to two additional charges in Washington, D.C., in September and agreed to cooperate with Mueller’s investigation into whether anyone from the Trump campaign coordinated with Moscow to interfere in the 2016 election.

However, Manafort’s plea agreement with Mueller broke down dramatically as the special counsel accused him of lying on a variety of subjects to prosecutors and FBI agents during the investigation into Russian interference in the election.

Late last week, Mueller alleged in a bombshell court filing that Manafort lied about his contacts with White House officials as well as his interactions and meetings with Konstantin Kilimnik, a Russian business associate suspected of ties to Kremlin intelligence agencies who has been charged with witness tampering in connection with Mueller’s investigation. 

Mueller also accused Manafort of misleading Justice Department officials working on a separate investigation and making “inconsistent statements” about a $125,000 payment he made in 2017. 

Mueller’s prosecutors wrote in the filing that they are “prepared to prove the basis for the defendant’s breach at a hearing that will establish each false statement through independent documentary and testimonial evidence.”

Mueller also signaled Manafort’s attorneys did not argue against their claims when presented with them. 

“In none of the communications with Manafort’s counsel was any factual or legal argument made as to why the government’s assessment of Manafort’s credibility was erroneous or made without good faith,” the filing said.

NBC News reported Monday that Manafort plans to respond to the allegations in a filing this week. 

Manafort is scheduled to be sentenced in Virginia in February and in Washington the following month. Mueller’s prosecutors have also indicated they may bring additional charges against President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump's top adviser on Asia to serve as deputy national security adviser United Auto Workers strike against GM poised to head into eighth day Trump doubles down on call to investigate Biden after whistleblower complaint: 'That's the real story' MORE’s former campaign chairman for breaching his plea deal, which could include obstruction of justice. 

The developments in Manafort’s case are among several in Mueller’s sprawling Russia investigation in recent weeks. 

While Manafort was widely viewed as a significant cooperator for Mueller before his plea deal broke down, Mueller has recently secured the cooperation of Trump’s former personal attorney Michael Cohen, revealing in a separate filing last week that Cohen had provided new and valuable information about Russian outreach to the campaign.

Trump has repeatedly insisted his campaign did not collude with the Russian government, writing on Twitter early Saturday that it is time for the "witch hunt" — a term he regularly uses to describe Mueller's investigation — to end.