Manafort waives right to appear at new court hearing

President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump claims media 'smeared' students involved in encounter with Native American man Al Sharpton criticizes Trump’s ‘secret’ visit to MLK monument Gillibrand cites spirituality in 2020 fight against Trump’s ‘dark’ values MORE’s former campaign chairman Paul ManafortPaul John ManafortBuzzFeed story has more to say about media than the president Dems revive impeachment talk after latest Cohen bombshell The case for Russia sanctions MORE on Wednesday waived his right to appear in court on Friday for a hearing set after his defense attorneys and special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE said they were ready for sentencing.

"I waive my right to appear because of the time involved in having the U.S. Marshal Service transport me to and from the courthouse," Manafort said in a new filing. 

ADVERTISEMENT

The government accused Manafort in court filings on Monday night of breaching his plea deal, saying he “committed federal crimes by lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Special Counsel’s Office on a variety of subject matters, which constitute breaches of the agreement.”

Manafort’s defense attorneys denied the allegation, saying Manafort believes he has provided truthful information and does not agree with the government’s characterization or that he has breached the agreement.

Over the summer, a jury in Northern Virginia convicted Manafort of eight counts of bank and tax fraud.

In order to avoid a second trial in Washington, D.C., Manafort agreed to plead guilty to two felony charges related to his foreign lobbying and cooperate with Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election and any possible coordination between the Trump campaign and Moscow.

Manafort’s decision to waive his right to appear in court comes after two bombshell reports this week. The Guardian reported that Manafort met with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange around the time he joined the Trump campaign. The organization is responsible for leaking emails from the Democratic National Committee that were hacked by the Russians.

WikiLeaks and Manafort vigorously denied the report. In a statement, he called the story "totally false and deliberately libelous.”

Meanwhile, The New York Times reported that Manafort’s attorney has been briefing Trump’s attorneys on his discussions with the special counsel’s office.

Federal prosecutors and Manafort’s defense team are scheduled to appear in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia at 9:30 a.m. on Friday.