U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson signaled Tuesday that she thought a hearing on Paul Manafort’s alleged lies to investigators might be necessary before she proceeds to sentencing. She tentatively scheduled such a hearing for the morning of January 25.
Manafort’s attorney Richard Westling suggested that it was possible that the defense wouldn’t ask for a hearing.
“It’s news to me that you aren’t,” Jackson said.
The defense and prosecutors agreed to keep an informal discussion going about special counsel Robert Mueller’s accusations that Manafort lied after agreeing to cooperate with federal investigators. Manafort’s attorneys will file a briefing on January 7 indicating what, if any, aspects of those accusations the defense is disputing.
It may be possible, Jackson said, that “not much of a hearing is required.”
The hearing came after Mueller told the judge in a Friday court filing — partially redacted in its public form — that Manafort had lied to federal investigators in “multiple ways” and on “multiple occasions.” Among those false statements, according to the filing, were lies about contacts with the Trump administration in 2018, as well as about his communications with a GRU-linked Russian who was his longtime deputy on his Ukraine consulting work.
Manafort came to the plea deal with Mueller in September, just before his trial in D.C., focused on money laundering and failure to disclose foreign lobbying allegations, began. He had previously been found guilty on eight counts by a jury in Virginia in the bank fraud and tax fraud case Mueller brought against Manafort there.
Jackson noted that Mueller’s Friday filing alone — which she was able to read without the redactions — would not be enough for her to rule on whether the former Trump campaign chairman had breached his agreement, and that Manafort’s attorneys would probably also need more information about the allegations so they could respond to them. She also stressed that she wanted to see that additional information — which could include transcripts from Manafort’s grand jury testimony or FBI interviews, and the evidence that showed that his statements were false — before holding the potential hearing.
Mueller team attorney Andrew Weissmann said that prosecutors would be willing to provide her the “factual underpinnings” behind their allegations. Those filings could be under seal if necessary, Jackson indicated.
If Manafort’s attorneys confirm in early January that they are disputing Mueller’s claims of Manafort’s lies — be it on the basis of the facts or Manafort’s intent — then prosecutors will respond with their own filing backing those allegations up the following week. Manafort’s attorneys will have the opportunity to reply to that filing before the tentative January hearing.