Ellis Challenges Manafort Plea Deal, Wants To Sentence Him Promptly

TPM Illustration. Photo by Getty Images/The Washington Post

U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis signaled he wants to move forward with sentencing Paul Manafort for the eight counts he was convicted of in Virginia this summer, and wants prosecutors to decide whether to retry him on the remaining deadlocked counts, despite Manafort’s plea deal with special counsel Robert Mueller putting off such moves pending Manafort’s cooperation.

“This would be highly unusual,” Ellis said of the terms of the plea agreement, entered in a D.C. federal court last month. Ellis’ characteristically grouchy order set a hearing for Oct. 19 to begin wrapping up the retrial issues and sentencing mechanics in the Virginia case.

“In this District, the government’s decision to re-try a defendant is always made in a timely manner and sentencing occurs within two to no more than four months from entry of a guilty plea or receipt of a jury verdict,” Ellis said.

Manafort, the former Trump campaign chairman, faced charges brought by Mueller in both D.C. and Virginia, after he declined an opportunity to consolidate the cases. The allegations mostly stemmed from consulting work that Manafort did in Ukraine well before he joined the Trump campaign,

The Virginia trial, focusing on bank fraud and tax fraud allegations, ended with a jury convicting him of eight of the 18 counts brought there, and deadlocking on the rest. Ellis, while presiding over the Virginia trial, was tough on the prosecutors and often questioned their tactics in front of the jury.

Just before the D.C. trial was set to begin, Manafort and Mueller reached a plea deal that allowed him to plead guilty to one count of conspiracy against the United States and one count of witness tampering. He had been facing many more counts concerning money laundering and failure to disclose foreign lobbying.

Read Ellis’ scheduling order below:

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