Mueller Sentencing Memo For Manafort May Be Russia Probe Tell-All

WASHINGTON, DC — Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s sentencing memorandum in the prosecution of Paul Manafort, President Trump’s former campaign manager, is due to a federal judge before midnight Friday. Manafort was found guilty of eight financial crimes late last summer.

Manafort, who led Trump’s 2016 campaign for months, isn’t charged with any crimes directly related to Russian election interference, which has been the focus of Mueller’s probe. Mueller could recommend a prison sentence of up to 24 years, meaning Manafort, who turns 70 next month, could spend the rest of his life in prison. His crimes relate to income from consulting work for pro-Russian politicians in Ukraine.

The sentencing memo could be a tell-all. Mueller is likely to not only lay out all of Manafort’s crimes, his attempt to reach out to key contacts after his arrest and lies he told prosecutors and a grand jury. But the memo could also spell out what Manafort told Mueller’s team about Russian influence in the 2016 election after he agreed to cooperate with the investigation.

Previous court filings have revealed that Manafort shared polling data related to the Trump campaign with an assoicate the FBI says has ties to Russian intelligence. A Mueller prosecutor also said earlier this month that an August 2016 meeting between Manafort and the associate, Konstantin Kilimnik, goes to the “heart” of the Russia probe. The meeting involved a discussion of a Ukrainian peace plan, but prosecutors haven’t said exactly what has captivated their attention and whether it factors into the Kremlin’s attempts to help Trump in the 2016 election.

Though Manafort cooperated, Mueller isn’t expected to recommend leniency after a judge found earlier this month that Manafort lied to investigators after he agreed to cooperate.

The charges against Manafort were lodged in both the District of Columbia and a federal court in Alexandria, Virginia. He was convicted of five tax fraud charges, one charge of hiding foreign bank accounts and two counts of bank fraud in the Virginia case, but the jury was unable to reach a verdict on 10 remaining counts and the judge declared a mistrial on those.

Manafort agreed to cooperate with the Mueller investigation on the eve of his second trial in D.C. in September and pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy against the United States and one count of conspiracy to obstruct justice due to attempts to tamper with witnesses.

Those two charges each carry a maximum of five years in prison, a much lower potential punishment than in the Virginia cases. Mueller’s team previously endorsed a sentence of between 19.5 and 24.5 years in prison.

Manafort is set to be sentenced March 8 in Virginia and March 13 in Washington. His lawyers have until Monday to file their own sentencing recommendations.

For the latest, go to CNN.

The Associated Press contributed reporting.

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