The indictment and early morning arrest of Roger Stone overshadowed Paul Manafort’s appearance in a DC courtroom yesterday. Manafort chose not to be there but judge Amy Berman Jackson insisted he attend the hearing over his lack of cooperation with the Special Counsel.
Leaning heavily on a cane as he walked into the courtroom, his hair a bit more gray, Manafort is looking old and tired.
The hearing will continue next week but under seal, behind closed doors so no sketches. However, on Tuesday Roger Stone will be at the DC courthouse for arraignment, and I wouldn’t want to miss that.
A crowd of supporters showed up for what was expected to be a lenient sentencing for former national security advisor Michael Flynn, some no doubt hoping the judge would criticize the government for coming close to entrapment. But in an unexpected twist Judge Sullivan, who is known for holding government officials to a higher standard, instead focused his ire on the defendant.
“He was a high-ranking government official, advising the president of the United States,” Sullivan said. “I’m not hiding my disgust, my disdain, for this criminal offense.”
After repeatedly rebuking Flynn and having him admit on the record that he knew when he lied to the FBI that he was breaking the law, Judge Sullivan recessed the hearing so that Flynn could consult with his lawyers and decide if he wanted to continue with sentencing and almost certainly go to jail or continue cooperating with the government in the prosecution of his former business partners, and face sentencing at a later date. Flynn chose to postpone sentencing.
Former Trump campaign manager, and now convicted felon, Paul Manafort appeared dour as he was wheeled into the courtroom for a pre-sentencing hearing in Alexandria yesterday. When Judge Ellis addressed him directly Manafort just stared into space. No details were given about his health, why he was in a wheelchair, or why his right foot was shoeless and covered with a thick white sock.
Manafort’s attorney Kevin Downing told Judge Ellis there are “significant issues with Mr. Manafort’s health right now that have to do with his confinement.”
It is not unusual for defendants facing incarceration to develop “significant health issues” shortly before sentencing. Judge Ellis set a sentencing date of February 8.
In a filled to capacity courtroom – I think all of Special Counsel Mueller’s team were present, though not Mueller – Paul Manafort yesterday entered a plea of guilty to two counts before Judge Amy Berman Jackson.
Manafort also entered into a cooperation agreement with the government promising to respond truthfully to all questions from investigators.
George Papadopoulos, a Trump campaign adviser who’s conversation with an Australian diplomat in a London bar in 2016 was partly responsible for launching an FBI investigation into Russian meddling in the presidential elections was yesterday sentenced to 14 days in prison, 200 hours of community service and fined $9,500.