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Manafort’s Attorneys and Mueller Clashed Under Seal Today in Federal Court — Here’s What We Know


Lawyers for former Trump campaign chairman and convicted felon Paul Manafort, 69, were up bright and early on Monday to argue against Special Counsel Robert Mueller‘s allegations that their client lied repeatedly after cutting a plea deal.

The attorneys appeared in Judge Amy Berman Jackson‘s Washington, D.C. federal courtroom for a 10 a.m. hearing that occurred under seal. The arguments went on for hours and Manafort’s attorneys left the room once for a break. Eventually, there was a longer pause for a lunch break. Manafort himself was present at the hearing, presumably in a suit.

The hearing ended and the lawyers exited after about four-and-a-half hours in court. We already knew that after the hearing a redacted transcript would be filed, but that has not yet come to pass.

Judge Berman Jackson set some deadlines in a minute order Monday afternoon that you might consider keeping an eye on, however. Both Manafort and Mueller have been ordered to propose their redactions to the transcript of what was argued by “Close of Business” on Wednesday, Feb. 6. In addition, it’s been ordered that “any supplemental submissions from the parties” be submitted by noon on Friday.

The judge has also revealed that there will be another sealed hearing on Wednesday.

Finally, the judge pushed back Manafort’s sentencing to March 13 and ordered both parties to file sentencing memoranda by Feb. 22.

Manafort was previously accused of “lying repeatedly” to investigators on multiple occasions about multiple subjects, including “lies” about Russian national Konstantin Kilimnik and Manafort’s contact with Trump Administration officials.

Manafort’s attorneys have countered the special counsel by saying there is no proof that Manafort intentionally lied. They’ve also said that Manafort merely needed his memory refreshed, and that prison life has taken a mental and physical toll on the soon-to-be septuagenarian.

The stakes of this plea dispute could be pretty high for Manafort, considering that Judge T.S. Ellis III recently decided to push back Manafort’s expedited sentencing for bank and tax fraud in the Eastern District of Virginia. Ellis said that “Because it appears that resolution of the current dispute in defendant’s prosecution in D.C. may have some effect on the sentencing decision in this case, it is prudent and appropriate to delay sentencing.”

A judge taking into account alleged illegal conduct in a separate case ahead of sentencing is not what is known as good news for a defendant.

It remains a possibility, as well, that Mueller will want to go after Manafort on 10 felony counts a jury couldn’t convict him on back in August 2018. A lone holdout juror, you may remember, got Judge Ellis to declare a mistrial on 10 counts. Manafort was nonetheless convicted on eight other felony counts. Considering that Mueller didn’t get a second chance to try Manafort in D.C. because of the plea deal, he might be inclined to walk that path.

[Image via Alex Wong/Getty Images, Alexandria Detention Center]

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Matt Naham is the Senior A.M. Editor of Law&Crime.