Manafort Given Time to Review Records US Wants Unsealed

WASHINGTON (CN) – A federal judge gave President Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort more time Monday to make the case for keeping court transcripts secret.

President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort arrives at the federal courthouse, on Feb. 28, 2018, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

Though the hearings in January and February were open to the public, the court used loud static to block attendees from listening to U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson’s bench conferences with attorneys.

Prosecutors moved to unseal transcripts of those conversations, as well  a secret sidebar conversation from the Feb. 14 hearing, on March 1.

Though the government said the reason for sealing the bench conferences and sidebar conversation has “been mooted,” Manafort said in a March 9 filing that he had not yet seen or reviewed those portions of the transcripts.

Defense attorneys Kevin Downing and Thomas Zehnle said they need more time for Manafort “to make an informed determination, based on a review of the transcripts, regarding whether to file notice of objections to unsealing.”

Manafort is being prosecuted as part of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election and potential ties between Russia and the Trump campaign.

Mueller’s team did not object to Manafort’s request, and Judge Jackson ruled Monday that Manafort can file any objections he has to unsealing the transcripts within five days of receiving them for review.

Manafort was indicted in October alongside his longtime business associate, Richard Gates. The former Trump aides were charged with conspiracy, money laundering, being an unregistered foreign agent and failing to pay taxes on income earned doing lobbying work on behalf of the Ukrainian government.

On Feb. 22, Mueller’s team brought additional tax and bank fraud charges against both Manafort and Gates in the Eastern District of Virginia.

Manafort has pleaded not guilty to all of the charges, but Gates struck a plea deal. After Gates agreed to cooperate with Mueller’s team, pleading guilty to one count of conspiracy and one count of lying to the FBI, Mueller’s team dismissed the additional charges.

On March 8, Jackson also granted Gates’ request to review the transcripts.

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