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Monday, December 05 2022

Trump’s ex-campaign chairman to be sentenced in March

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Washington: Paul Manafort, former campaign chairman of US President Donald Trump, will tentatively face sentencing on March 5, a federal judge ruled on Friday, November 30, media has reported.

US District Judge Amy Berman Jackson said Mueller’s team must submit a report to the court on December 7 on Manafort’s alleged breach of the terms of his plea agreement with federal prosecutors. Jackson also said she would hold a hearing about it in January.

The ruling came days after special counsel Robert Mueller, who is leading the Russia probe, accused Manafort, 69, of repeatedly lying to federal investigators, breaching his plea deal he signed in September, Xinhua news agency reported.

The special counsel is considering whether to file new charges against Manafort, said US Attorney Andrew Weissmann, a prosecutor with the Mueller team, during a hearing in federal court in Washington DC on Friday morning.

“That determination has not been made,” Weissmann said.

Currently in jail in Alexandria, state of Virginia, Manafort had waived his right to appear in court on Friday.

Manafort’s attorneys said earlier this week that he disagreed with Mueller’s claim that he had lied to the FBI and the special counsel’s office, and that he “has provided information to the government in an effort to live up to his cooperation obligations.”

Manafort was convicted in August in a trial in Virginia on eight counts of financial fraud related to his work as an unregistered lobbyist for Ukraine — prior to his time with the Trump campaign. He is scheduled to be sentenced on February 8 for that conviction.

In September, Manafort struck a deal to cooperate with Mueller’s team to avoid a second related trial in the District of Columbia. Since then, he had been meeting with Mueller’s team for the ongoing inquiry.

Trump has tried to distance himself from Manafort, who joined the Trump campaign team in March 2016 and spent about two months working as campaign chairman before resigning following exposure of his Ukrainian lobbying work.

The past week has been filled with new developments in the Russia probe, which is looking into the alleged Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election and any potential collusion between the Trump presidential campaign and Moscow.

Trump’s former personal lawyer Michael Cohen reached a guilty plea with Mueller on Thursday to a count of making false statements to Congress about an aborted Trump Tower development project in Moscow.

Cohen has been in discussions with Mueller’s team, beginning in August and continuing through last week.

Trump slammed Cohen as “a weak person” who was lying to get a reduced sentence, as he has defended the legality of his business dealings.

The US president has recently escalated attacks against the Mueller probe that he has frequently slammed as a “hoax” or “witch hunt.” He has denied any wrongdoing or trying to shut down the investigation but has urged Mueller to wrap it up.

Russia has repeatedly denied meddling in the US elections.

Trump cancelled a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin scheduled in Argentina, the host of the ongoing Group of 20 (G-20) summit.

The White House on Friday said the cancellation was because of Russia’s confrontation with Ukraine, but admitted that the Mueller-led investigation “probably does undermine” the Washington-Moscow relations.

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