Manafort 'faces very real possibility' of life in prison, court order says

Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort “faces the very real possibility” of a lifetime prison sentence, according to a federal court order reviewed by Fox News Tuesday.

U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III, in an order made public Tuesday, wrote that Manafort “poses a substantial flight risk” because of his “financial means and international connections to flee and remain at large.”

“Specifically given the nature of the charges against the defendant and the apparent weight of the evidence against him, defendant faces the very real possibility of spending the rest of his life in prison,” Ellis wrote.

Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort could face life in prison, a federal judge said in a court order made public Tuesday.

Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort could face life in prison, a federal judge said in a court order made public Tuesday. (AP)

Ellis, who is based in federal court in Alexandria at the Eastern District of Virginia, has been assigned Manafort’s latest indictment brought by Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Manafort pleaded not guilty last month to the superseding indictment, with its 18 counts of tax evasion and bank fraud.

Manafort, who was first indicted in October as part of Mueller’s special counsel investigation into Russian meddling and potential collusion with Trump campaign associates in the 2016 presidential election, pleaded not guilty to both indictments.

The court order released Tuesday details Manafort’s conditions of release. Ellis ordered a $10 million unsecured bond and home confinement with GPS monitoring.

Manafort, the well-known political operative with a long history of work in Republican circles, is also facing charges at U.S. District Court in Washington. He has been ordered to wear two GPS monitoring anklets, or bracelets—one from each court house, and is confined to his house, with exceptions of medical emergencies, doctor appointments court dates, meetings with legal representation or religious worship.

Manafort lives primarily in Alexandria, Virginia, but also has properties in Florida and New York.

Manafort’s ex-associate Rick Gates, who also worked for the Trump campaign, pleaded guilty last month to his October indictment, after initially pleading not guilty, which included conspiracy against the U.S., conspiracy to launder money, unregistered agent of a foreign principal, false and misleading Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA) statements, false statements and seven counts of failure to file reports of foreign banks and financial accounts.

Mueller also brought an additional superseding indictment against Gates, but after his guilty plea, the special counsel dismissed the additional charges. Gates has intimate knowledge of Manafort’s political consulting work in Ukraine, as well as other events that have sparked the interest of federal investigators.

Former Manafort associate Rick Gates pleaded guilty to charges brought by Special Counsel Robert Mueller last month.

Former Manafort associate Rick Gates pleaded guilty to charges brought by Special Counsel Robert Mueller last month. (AP)

Mueller’s move to drop the second round of charges against Gates indicates his cooperation with the special counsel team could be yielding good information, as it pursues charges against Manafort.

Manafort blasted Gates’ guilty plea.

“Notwithstanding that Rick Gates pled guilty today, I continue to maintain my innocence,” Manafort said in a statement to Fox News last month. “I had hoped and expected my business colleague would have had the strength to continue the battle to prove our innocence. For reasons yet to surface he chose to do otherwise.”