Federal judge clears courtroom to hear evidence in Manafort case

Federal judge clears courtroom to hear evidence in Manafort case

U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson, who would have presided over Paul Manafort’s second trial had it come about, oversaw a sealed courtroom on Monday in order to hear evidence in Manafort’s case.

In Washington, D.C., an officer cleared the federal courtroom before Jackson entered. Jackson is scheduled to sentence Manafort, who was not present in the courtroom when it was cleared, on two conspiracy counts on Tuesday, March 5.

The 69-year-old Manafort, President Donald Trump’s former campaign manager, has been charged with a long list of felonies in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe. On Aug. 22, a jury in Washington, D.C. found Manafort guilty of eight criminal counts, including tax and bank fraud. Manafort faced additional criminal charges in a second trial, including obstruction of justice and money laundering. That trial was set to begin in Jackson’s courtroom in September, but it never came about because Manafort agreed to a plea deal with Mueller.

Manafort agreed to fully cooperate with Mueller’s team in exchange for a lenient sentence. However, the plea deal fell apart when the special counsel determined that he had been lying to his office repeatedly—an egregious breach of their agreement. And when Jackson sentences Manafort next month, Mueller’s allegation that he violated his end of the plea deal could influence the severity of the sentence.

Manafort has had a testy relationship with Jackson, who revoked his bail in June 2018 and ordered him to be jailed immediately after determining that he had been tampering with witnesses. The long-time GOP operative has been incarcerated in Virginia ever since.


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