Federal prosecutors are no longer required to argue in support of a reduced prison sentence for Paul Manafort, a federal judge ruled Wednesday, finding the special counsel had adequately demonstrated that the former Trump campaign chairman lied to authorities after pledging to cooperate.
The judge, Amy Berman Jackson, concluded that prosecutors are not obligated to advocate for a reduced sentence for Manafort, who pleaded guilty in September to various charges rooted in his lobbying work for Ukraine. The plea agreement followed Manafort’s conviction in Alexandria, Virginia, on multiple financial fraud charges.
Sentencing is set for March 13 in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. A Manafort spokesman declined to comment Wednesday.
Jackson found the special counsel’s office had proven “by a preponderance of the evidence” that Manafort lied about certain “interactions and communications” with a Russian associate, Konstantin Kilimnik, and also gave false statements related to another Justice Department investigation.
Jackson, however, also found that Mueller’s team failed to establish Manafort lied about his communications with the Trump administration.
Prosecutors had alleged that, after signing the plea deal last year, Manafort denied but later admitted that Kilimnik had conspired with him to alter the testimony of two witnesses in order to “exculpate them” of a violation of the federal law requiring disclosure of lobbying work for foreign governments. The allegation of witness tampering prompted Jackson in June to order Manafort to be jailed as he awaited trial.
Jackson’s ruling does not resolve what benefit, if any, Manafort will receive at the time he is sentenced. Manafort pleaded guilty in Washington court only after a lengthy related trial in Virginia, where he was found guilty on most counts. Manafort’s sentencing in Virginia had been set for Feb. 8 but the judge in the case recently postponed the hearing to an unspecified date.
Jackson’s order is posted below: