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Paul Manafort to be sentenced March 13

Posted: 4:08 PM, Feb 04, 2019
Updated: 2019-02-05 00:08:35Z

Donald Trump's 2016 presidential campaign manager Paul Manafort will be sentenced for the first time on March 13, a federal judge in Washington who approved his guilty plea said Monday.

The court date sets up one of the most anticipated bookends of Robert Mueller's special counsel investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

Manafort and his deputy Rick Gates were the targets of the first criminal indictment to come from Mueller's unit in October 2017. Since then, Manafort has been the only defendant to go to trial -- and was thought to be both a top target of the prosecutors and, later, potentially a star witness in the investigation. His case led prosecutors and the public through months of unexpected developments during the probe, including, ultimately, the accusation that he had lied after agreeing to cooperate .

Those lies allegedly involved his attempts to cover up communications with a longtime Russian colleague and with Trump administration officials from 2016 on after Mueller asked about them late last year. Manafort says he did not intentionally lie during the interviews.

He initially had been set to learn his first prison sentence this week, until his alleged lying derailed that plan.

At the March 13 hearing, Manafort will be sentenced on the two charges he pleaded guilty to -- conspiracy and witness tampering -- as part of his admission that he had orchestrated a vast lobbying and money laundering criminal scheme.

The judge overseeing his case, Amy Berman Jackson, is currently deciding whether Manafort breached his plea deal with the Special Counsel's Office by allegedly lying to investigators during his cooperation interviews and grand jury testimony.

At a later date that isn't yet set, Manafort will be sentenced by a separate federal judge in the Eastern District of Virginia for eight financial crimes for which he was convicted at trial last summer.

It's not yet known how much prison time in total Manafort will face or how much prosecutors will seek. His crimes combined could keep the 69-year-old Manafort in prison for well more than a decade.

He has been in jail since June 2018 following his witness tampering allegation.

On Monday, Jackson, the prosecutors, Manafort's defense lawyers and Manafort himself met in a closed courtroom in Washington for more than four hours to discuss the evidence regarding his alleged broken plea deal. They will meet again February 13 at another closed hearing.