Manafort sentencing scheduled for March 8

Paul manafort at the 2016 Republican National Convention. Photo from Disney | ABC Flickr

Paul Manafort will be sentenced on March 8 in Alexandria, Virginia for bank and tax fraud, the Washington Post reports.

The 69 year-old faces 19 – 24 years in prison according to federal sentencing guidelines in the Virginia case, potentially a life sentence. Special Counsel Robert Mueller called Manafort’s crimes “serious, long-standing, and bold” in a filing last week. Judge Ellis, who oversaw the former Trump campaign chairman’s case which focused on his lobbying work in Ukraine, set out the schedule leading up to sentencing in a single page order released today.

Manafort’s attorneys have until March 1 to submit their sentencing memo and Mueller’s office can submit a reply by March 6.

After Manafort was found guilty of eight of the 18 charges he faced in Virginia in July, he pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges in DC and agreed to cooperate with the government. However, Mueller accused him of lying to investigators and a grand jury during his cooperation sessions. Judge Amy Berman Jackson ruled last week that Manafort intentionally lied to federal prosecutors, voiding the plea deal, per Politico.

Judge Ellis originally had set Manafort’s sentencing for earlier this month but that hearing was postponed until Judge Jackson ruled on Manafort’s lack of truthfulness.

With the plea deal voided, Mueller is now free to recommend a harsher sentence. Manafort’s sentencing in DC is scheduled for March 13, where he faces sentencing for the original charges and additional charges of lying. Friday marks the deadline for Mueller to submit a sentencing memo which will lay out the special counsel’s recommendations for prison time for Manafort.

While Mueller had agreed to recommend the Virginia and DC sentences be served concurrently in light of Manafort’s guilty plea, the voiding of the plea agreement means he is now at liberty to recommend the sentences be served consecutively.

President Trump has said that a pardon for Manafort is not “off the table”. However, a presidential pardon for the man who had worked for a pro-Russian politician and an oligarch with close ties to Vladimir Putin while serving as Donald Trump’s campaign chairman would likely be widely unpopular with the public. It would also be a controversial move with the Democrats who hold in the majority in the House and have signaled a willingness to investigate any such actions as it relates to the Russia probe that has dogged Trump’s first two years in the White House.

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