Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort’s trial in a Virginia federal court on tax evasion and bank fraud charges filed by special counsel Robert Mueller will be delayed two weeks to now begin in late July, the judge in the case said Friday.
Alexandria-based U.S. District Court Judge T.S. Ellis III announced in an orderthat he is sliding the start date for Manafort’s trial from July 10 to July 24.
The judge said the delay was due to a medical procedure for one of his family members. However, last week he ordered a two-week delay in a hearing on some key motions in the case. That move led to speculation that Manafort’s trial would wind up being delayed.
A spokesman for Manafort declined to comment on the judge’s announcement. A spokesman for Mueller’s office declined to comment.
The Virginia case is one of two criminal cases Manafort is facing. The other case, also brought by Mueller’s prosecutors, charges the longtime political consultant and lobbyist with money laundering and failing to register as a foreign agent in connection with his Ukraine-related work. That case, pending in U.S. District Court in Washington, is set to go to trial Sept. 17.
Ellis’ order raised the prospect of further delay in the Virginia case since he said that if the July 24 date would not work for lawyers involved he’d consider another, presumably later, date. With the Virginia trial expected to last at least several weeks, it seems possible that any further delays in Manafort’s Virginia trial would lead to a delay in the Washington case.
Meanwhile, in a separate ruling Friday, the judge handling the D.C. case deferred any decision on a motion by Manafort to strike one of two false-statement charges from the indictment Manafort faces there.
U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson said the two charges — a charge of false or misleading statements related to foreign agent registration and a charge under a more general false-state statute — had enough potential distinctions that they could each be valid as separate charges against Manafort.
However, Jackson said that she would reconsider the issue after trial and that Manafort could try to knock out one of the charges if he’s convicted on both counts.
“Under all of these circumstances, the D.C. Circuit [appeals court] has observed that the better practice would be to defer this determination until after the trial,” the judge wrote.