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Manafort Back in Court for Additional Sentencing

U.S. President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort is back in federal court Wednesday in Washington, facing up to a 10-year sentence after pleading guilty to two conspiracy charges linked to his lobbying efforts in Ukraine for a pro-Russian political party.

Judge Amy Berman Jackson, who revoked Manafort’s house arrest and jailed him last June after hearing allegations that he tampered with witnesses, will decide whether to tack a new sentence on to the 47-month term a federal judge in Virginia imposed on him last week for financial crimes.

It is up to Jackson to decide whether Manafort, who turns 70 next month, can serve his new sentence concurrently with one for financial crimes, or whether the punishment she imposes will begin after he is done with the prison time from the other case.

The Manafort case is part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russia’s interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. The charges against Manafort, however, are not related to his work on the Trump campaign, but rather his work on behalf of the pro-Russia political party in Ukraine.

Manafort pleaded guilty in an agreement with Mueller’s team to fully cooperate with the Russia probe, but Jackson ruled he violated the terms of the plea deal by lying to investigators.

The sentencing hearing could open a window into allegations linked to Mueller’s Russia investigation that are not part of the criminal case against Manafort, but have surfaced during his court proceedings. Prosecutors say Manafort shared Trump campaign polling data with Konstantin Kilimnik, a business associate identified by prosecutors as having ties to Russian intelligence.

The prosecutors say Manafort and Kilimnik met secretly during the U.S. presidential campaign and that their encounter cuts “to the heart” of their investigation whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia to help him win.

Mueller’s investigation appears to be winding down, although no end date has been set for him to deliver a report on his investigation to the Justice Department and Attorney General William Barr.

Mueller’s prosecutors late Tuesday updated a judge on the status of cooperation by another defendant, former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn, who pleaded guilty to lying to investigators about his contacts with Russia’s former ambassador to the U.S., Sergey Kislyak.

The prosecutors are expected to do the same later in the week for Rick Gates, a Manafort business associate and former key Trump campaign aide, who pleaded guilty to fraud and lying to investigators.

Mueller and federal prosecutors also have secured guilty pleas for various offenses from Trump’s former personal attorney Michael Cohen and former foreign affairs adviser George Papadopoulos, while also indicting long-time Trump adviser Roger Stone.

 

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