A trial is set for Sept. 17 in special counsel Robert Mueller’s criminal case against Paul Manafort, the former campaign chairman for President Donald Trump.
Manafort, originally indicted last October, pleaded not guilty Wednesday to a five-count superseding indictment returned by a grand jury in Washington, D.C., last week. The charges include conspiracy to launder money, failure to register as a foreign agent and making false statements. The trial will begin at 9:30 a.m. before U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson of the District of Columbia.
Manafort also faces charges in the federal court of the Eastern District of Virginia, including bank fraud and tax fraud, which were returned by a grand jury there last week. His arraignment in that court is scheduled for Friday afternoon, and there is no trial date yet in that case.
Jackson also set a schedule for various pretrial motions and hearings, including a pretrial conference to be held Sept. 5. Greg Andres, a lawyer for the special counsel’s office, also told the judge there would be a written jury questionnaire. She said she thought that was “appropriate,” but said it should be 50 questions or fewer.
The judge also noted the complexity of having two trials in two separate courts. Though the charges against Manafort are different in D.C. and Virginia, there are overlapping factual allegations.
The judge said there is a risk that duplicative motions will be filed in each court and that there could be inconsistent rulings on them. She added that the burden of holding two trials would likely “fall heaviest” on the defense.
Andres said the special counsel’s office understood, but stressed that Manafort chose not to waive his right to have the charges brought in Virginia.
Some of those charges were also brought against Manafort’s former deputy, Rick Gates, though the special counsel’s office asked to have those dismissed after Gates pleaded guilty to charges in Washington last week. Gates is represented by Sidley Austin partner Tom Green.
In response to Gates’ plea Friday, Manafort released a written statement maintaining his innocence. Jackson said Wednesday that statement was contrary to her November order barring the parties and lawyers in the case from speaking with the media about issues material to the trial.
Jackson said she could “understand the impulse to not let that go by” without an assertion of innocence, but added that Manafort’s actions were “contrary to the order.” She said if it happened again, she would issue an order to show cause as to why the order had not been violated.
It’s not the first time Jackson has scolded Manafort or his lawyer, Kevin Downing, for speaking with the media or violating the order. She issued an order to show cause late last year, after Manafort helped ghost-write an op-ed in a Ukrainian newspaper, but vacated it after delivering a strong reprimand.
Downing told the judge Wednesday he planned to swiftly file a motion related to her order and the Supreme Court precedent it was based on. Jackson, who had given the lawyers the chance to file motions before she issued the order in the first place, said she would read whatever he filed.