Mueller Promises More Details on Manafort Case in 10 Days

David Voreacos
Mueller Promises More Details on Manafort Case in 10 Days

(Bloomberg) -- Special Counsel Robert Mueller and Paul Manafort asked for a brief delay before updating a judge about Manafort’s cooperation in the Russia investigation, saying they will have more to report in 10 days.

Lawyers in the case were supposed to submit a status report Friday but asked U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson in Washington for an extension until Nov. 26. They didn’t explain why, saying in a brief filing on Thursday that they will then submit “a report that will be of greater assistance in the court’s management of this matter.”

Nothing else in the two-paragraph document indicates what, if anything, may be happening in the next 10 days. But the filing could suggest that Manafort’s cooperation with Mueller may be nearing a critical point.

Mueller and Manafort said “the parties have been meeting” since the last court hearing on Sept. 14.

Early on Friday, the judge granted the joint request.

Manafort, President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman, was convicted by a jury in August of bank and tax fraud in Alexandria, Virginia. He then pleaded guilty to additional charges in Washington a month later, agreeing to cooperate with Mueller’s investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

“It may be that there is an important aspect of Manafort’s cooperation with Mueller that they would like to report to the court but which would involve disclosing information that’s not public yet,” said Patrick Cotter, a former federal prosecutor.

“If Manafort is a key figure in a soon-to-be-made public indictment, such that he’s a major witness or co-conspirator, that would be a pretty big event,” Cotter said. “They may want to say to the judge, ‘You’re going to have his sentencing way back because Manafort is going to be a key witness in a brand new case.’”

Prosecutors may also still be debriefing Manafort and need more time, Cotter said.

Former federal prosecutor Elie Honig said the filing “tells us that something significant and public will be happening within the next 10 days. That will enable the prosecutors to give them a better sense of where Manafort is in terms of the overall process.”

The filing came a day after Mueller and lawyers for Rick Gates, Manafort’s former right-hand man who pleaded guilty and testified against his ex-boss, told Jackson that he is cooperating with prosecutors on “several ongoing investigations.” They said they will file another status report on Jan. 15.

The case is U.S. v. Manafort, 17-cr-201, U.S. District Court, District of Columbia.

(Updates with comments by ex-prosecutors.)

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