WASHINGTON – The federal judge who presided over the Virginia trial of Paul Manafort is pressing for an expedited sentencing of the former Trump campaign chairman in a move that could interfere with Manafort’s separate agreement to cooperate with Russia special counsel Robert Mueller.
U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III set a hearing next week to determine a sentencing date that would push prosecutors to decide whether to retry Manafort on 10 of the 18 criminal counts in which the jury deadlocked.
Manafort was convicted on eight counts of financial fraud in the August Virginia trial. Last month, he struck a deal to cooperate with Mueller’s team to avoid a second related trial in the District of Columbia.
Ellis, however, took issue with terms of the plea agreement in the D.C. case, which effectively puts off the Virginia sentencing and a decision on a retrial of the deadlocked counts until Manafort’s cooperation is complete.
“This would be highly unusual,” Ellis said in a two-page order, setting a Oct. 19 hearing on the matter.
“In this district, the government’s decision to retry a defendant on deadlocked counts 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 wrote.
“It appears in this case that the proper course of action is to resolve the deadlocked counts by either retrial or dismissal, to sentence the defendant and finally to resolve any motions related to defendant’s cooperation.”
It was immediately unclear how Ellis’ action might alter the agreement in D.C.
A spokesman for Manafort declined comment Thursday.