Manafort Pleads Not Guilty to Superseding Indictment

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)

WASHINGTON (CN) – President Donald Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort pleaded not guilty Wednesday to the latest charges filed against him in the broad investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

During a roughly 30-minute arraignment and status conference Wednesday morning, U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson scheduled Manafort’s trial to begin on Sept. 17. Though it is unclear how long the trial would last, the campaign season for Nov. 6 midterm elections at that point will be well underway.

The superseding indictment filed Friday by Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team charges Manafort with conspiracy against the United States, conspiracy to launder money, being an unregistered foreign agent and making false statements.

In addition to this filing in Washington, D.C., Mueller’s team brought another superseding indictment Thursday against Manafort and former Trump campaign aide Rick Gates in Virginia.

After Gates pleaded guilty Friday, Manafort appeared in court solo Wednesday morning. Gates has agreed to cooperate with Mueller in exchange for reduced charges. His plea included one count of conspiracy against the United States and one count of lying to FBI agents.

Federal prosecutor Greg Andres said the government is ready to go to trial right away, but Jackson countered that a September start date allows time for the parties to resolve outstanding motions prior to a pretrial conference.

Jackson asked Andres to explain what overlap, if any, exists between the 17 grand jury charges Manafort faces from two separate indictments in the District of Columbia, and the 18 additional counts brought in the Eastern District of Virginia last week via superseding indictment.

Though Andres answered that there is no overlap in the charges, he noted there will be some factual overlap in the two cases.

In Washington, Manafort faces charges of conspiracy, money laundering, failure to report foreign financial accounts, lying and failure to register as a foreign agent for work he did for pro-Russia Ukrainian political parties.

In Virginia, Manafort faces tax and bank-fraud charges related to an alleged scheme to keep U.S. authorities in the dark about income he generated from Ukrainian lobbying activities.

Jackson also scolded Manafort on Wednesday for his statement to the press Friday after Gates pleaded guilty.

“I had hoped and expected my business colleague would have had the strength to continue the battle to prove our innocence,” Manafort’s statement said. “For reasons yet to surface he chose to do otherwise. This does not alter my commitment to defend myself against the untrue piled up charges contained in the indictments against me.”

Jackson said she understood the urge for Manafort to speak out, given the intense and widespread press coverage of Gates’ plea deal. But she reiterated that the statement violated her gag order, which bars the parties from speaking to the press.

Jackson declined to punish Manafort for the infraction, but cautioned that next time she would not be so generous.

Before Manafort entered his not guilty plea Wednesday morning, Jackson offered her condolences for the recent passing of his father-in-law.

According to court filings, Manafort’s father-in-law passed away on Saturday. Jackson gave him permission to travel to Long Island, N.Y., to attend the funeral.

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