One week ago, Paul Manafort learned from a federal jury that he had been found guilty.
But the verdict in his criminal trial in Alexandria, Virginia, was only a halfway point in his defense against special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.
Tuesday morning, Manafort’s defense lawyers will be back in court, this time focused on securing some preliminary terms for a second criminal trial, set to begin Sept. 17 in Washington.
Manafort, President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman, won’t be in court in person. He cited “the time it takes for the US Marshal Service to transport me to and from the courthouse” as his reason for skipping. Manafort is being held in an Alexandria jail as he awaits his trial about 10 miles away in DC.
Judge Amy Berman Jackson plans to address a few minor issues in Manafort’s case, such as how much the prosecutors can discuss issues related to Ukrainian law, Manafort’s mortgage applications and other loans during the trial. The loan issues became key parts of prosecutors’ case against Manafort at his previous trial.
Both sides will debate one question: whether the court can ask potential jurors if they voted in the 2016 presidential election. Manafort’s defense team is all for this question, while the special counsel’s office is opposed to it. That’s likely because only 4% of DC voters cast ballots for Trump in the 2016 election, and many District residents are likely to follow national politics and news coverage of the Mueller investigation closely. A jury pool filled with political activists could be bad for Manafort.
Before the court can seat 12 jurors and alternates, the lawyers on both sides also hope to screen potential jurors for bias in regard to the federal government, Ukrainians, politics and lobbying work, or Mueller’s office.
Manafort’s Virginia trial revolved around a paper trail that showed evidence of tax fraud, bank fraud and a falsified foreign banking disclosure. In DC, the prosecutors plan to return to some of that same paper trail and more, this time showing how he allegedly skirted foreign lobbying-disclosure laws and conspired to launder money, then tried to influence witnesses after his indictment. Manafort faces seven criminal counts in the DC case. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges.
Though the proceedings may feel similar to the wind-up to Manafort’s last trial, which began July 31, the Washington case will have a different air. This trial may last a few days longer, and the stakes have changed for both sides.
Mueller’s office now has one successful trial propelling it – with even a Trump-supporting juror saying she believed Manafort was guilty. Manafort, on the other hand, faces sentencing in Virginia after his haunting loss in court.
Wednesday, prosecutors must tell the judge in Virginia what they plan to do with the 10 charges where a jury couldn’t reach a verdict and on which Judge T.S. Ellis declared a mistrial. On each of those counts, the jury had one person unwilling to find Manafort guilty. The jury convicted him unanimously on eight counts.
Manafort’s “options are very limited. Really he can go to trial and continue to contest all the charges brought against him, or he can plea to all or some charges and cooperate,” George Abney, a tax lawyer who previously worked alongside Manafort’s defense lawyers, said after the verdict last week. “He does not have much leverage at this point.”
Meanwhile, Manafort has heard encouraging signals from his former boss Trump, who has the sole ability to pardon him.