Mueller Misses Deadline on Mysterious Manafort Sentencing Memo

As we reported yesterday, Bob Mueller’s sentencing memorandum for Paul Manafort was due to a federal judge in DC District Court before midnight last night.

But as of early Saturday morning, the sentencing memorandum is still not publicly available.

This has led to speculation that Mueller is keeping the document under seal because it might contain explosive new information about Manafort’s role in the conspiracy and collusion between Russia and the 2016 Trump campaign.

In filings like these, prosecutors write a detailed account of all of the defendant’s crimes and misbehavior. In the sentencing memorandum prosecutors will outline in detail all facts they believe the federal judge (Amy Berman Jackson) should take into account before Manafort’s sentencing (which is now set for March 13.)

The probe of Trump’s one-time campaign manager has led investigators to compile a huge amount of information about Manafort’s secret bank accounts, his Ukrainian political work, and his underhanded activities while serving on the 2016 Trump presidential campaign.

Since Mueller’s team missed the deadline, the document probably includes very sensitive information. It shows that prosecutors are seeking Judge Jackson’s approval to redact, or black out, much of the material in the document.

The sentencing recommendation from Mueller comes as the 69-year-old Manafort is already facing the possibility of spending the rest of his life in prison in a separate case. The new memo was expected to clarify how Manafort fits into Mueller’s larger Russian investigation.

Recently revealed court filings have shown that Manafort shared polling data related to the Trump campaign with an associate the FBI says has ties to Russian intelligence. A Mueller prosecutor also said several weeks ago 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.

Prosecutors haven’t said how Manafort’s meeting with Kilimnik factors into the Kremlin’s attempts to help Trump in the 2016 election.

Like other Trump associates charged in the Mueller probe, Manafort hasn’t been accused of involvement in Russian election interference. His criminal case in Washington stems from illegal lobbying he carried out on behalf of Ukrainian interests. As part of a plea deal in the case, Manafort admitted to one count of conspiracy against the United States and one count of conspiracy to obstruct justice.

Prosecutors aren’t expected to recommend leniency because a judge found earlier this month that Manafort lied to investigators after agreeing to cooperate.

Each count carries a maximum of five years in prison, a much lower potential punishment than in Manafort’s separate tax and bank fraud case in Virginia. A jury convicted Manafort of eight felony counts last year, and Mueller’s team endorsed a sentence of between 19.5 and 24.5 years in prison in that case.

Manafort, who has been jailed for months and turns 70 in April, will have a chance to file his own sentencing recommendation next week.

This is a developing story, and PoliticusUSA will provide you updates on Mueller’s sentencing memorandum as they become available.