Former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort pleaded not guilty Wednesday to the new federal grand jury indictment against in Washington, D.C., and the judge set a trial date in the case of Sept. 17.
This was Manafort’s first appearance since his longtime deputy, former Trump campaign aide Rick Gates, pleaded guilty. Soon after Gates entered his guilty plea — to two counts of false statements and U.S. conspiracy against the U.S. — on Friday, Mueller revealed the new indictment, known as a superseding indictment, against Manafort.
At the hearing Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson scolded Manafort for the statement his spokesperson released on his behalf after Gates’ guilty plea last week.
There is currently an order prohibiting statements to the press from both sides in the case.
“I can understand the impulse,” Jackson said, to release such a statement, but she noted that when she imposed the gag order neither side objected to it. She said she was not going to take action this time, but in future for such statements she would.
Manafort attorney Kevin Downing indicated that he intended to file a motion challenging the judge’s interpretation of a court case cited in her gag order.
“I am happy to read anything you file,” Jackson said.
In addition to the charges that have been filed in D.C., Manafort faces charges in the Eastern District of Virginia. (Prosecutors have asked the court in Virginia to drop the charges against Gates, presumably in light of his plea deal with Mueller.)
In the D.C. case, the new indictment charged Manafort with five counts including conspiracy against the U.S., money laundering, failure to register as a foreign agent and false statements.
So far, it looks like the cases against Manafort brought in Washington, D.C. and the new indictment in the Eastern District of Virginia will remain separate for now. Judge Jackson asked the lawyers present at court Wednesday whether they are considering combining the cases, which do have some overlap in evidence. The charges in the new indictment in Virginia include false statements on tax returns, failure to report foreign bank and financial accounts, and bank fraud.
Prosecutors don’t have venue to bring all the Virginia charges in nearby DC, and Manafort has refused to waive his venue objection. Greg Andres, a lawyer for Mueller’s team, told the judge that Manafort’s lawyers were not keen on combining the cases. Jackson noted that having two separate cases with overlapping evidence would have the greatest burden on the defense and told Manafort’s lawyers that it was up to them how they would proceed.
Corrected: This story has been corrected to reflect that Paul Manafort — not Special Counsel Bob Mueller — faces charges in Virginia.