A federal judge ruled partly in favor of special counsel Robert Mueller on Wednesday that Paul Manafort violated the terms of his guilty plea by lying to federal prosecutors and a grand jury.
The decision by U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson confirms some of Mueller’s latest set of charges against the former Donald Trump campaign chairman that he lied during guilty-plea-stipulated cooperation sessions about his contacts with Konstantin Kilimnik, a longtime aide alleged to have ties to Russian intelligence.
Jackson, however, ruled that Mueller had “failed to establish by a preponderance of the evidence” that Manafort intentionally made a false statement about his contacts with the Trump administration.
The judge’s four-page ruling against Manafort means the 69-year old political operative will likely get an even stiffer penalty at his March 13 sentencing hearing in Washington, D.C., federal court. She said Mueller was “no longer bound by its obligations under the plea agreement” terms he’d reached with Manafort in September, including the special counsel’s pledge to support a less-stringent sentence.
Manafort had previously been on track to get a 10-year cap on his prison sentence in his D.C. case under the terms of the original plea deal he struck with Mueller, which limited the charges he faced to conspiracy against the U.S. and conspiracy to obstruct justice while dropping foreign-lobbying and money-laundering charges.
The plea agreement had also called for Manafort to serve time concurrently from his D.C. case with any sentence he gets from his convictions in Alexandria, Va., on charges of bank and tax fraud. But with Jackson’s order on Wednesday, Mueller is now free to recommend that Manafort serve his sentences consecutively.
Both Jackson and U.S. District Court Judge T.S. Ellis III, who presided in Manafort’s trial in Virginia and had postponed sentencing until the dispute over the lying charges was resolved, will have the final say in the decision on whether he serves back-to-back or simultaneous sentences.
A spokesman for Mueller’s office declined comment on Jackson’s order, while a spokesman for Manafort did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
“None of this is good for Manafort,” said David Weinstein, a former federal prosecutor from south Florida. “His sentence has the potential of being very lengthy.”
Article originally published on POLITICO Magazine
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