What to expect from Mueller’s sentencing recommendations for Manafort and Cohen

Paul Manafort is facing a long time in prison.
Paul Manafort is facing a long time in prison.
Image: Reuters/Jonathan Ernst
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Special counsel Robert Mueller is expected to file sentencing recommendations this afternoon for two figures who once occupied central positions in the Trump orbit: the president’s former personal lawyer Michael Cohen and former campaign director Paul Manafort.

The two men hold opposing positions in Mueller’s graces. Both entered guilty pleas to federal courts and penned deals with Mueller’s team, but while Cohen has delivered 70 hours’ worth of interviews, Manafort’s agreement fell apart after he allegedly lied to prosecutors.

Cohen’s lawyers asked the court for no jail time in a document filed last month—and Mueller’s sentencing recommendation for former national security advisor Mike Flynn suggests that’s a likely possibility. In a sentencing memo released earlier this week, the special counsel’s team said that Flynn shouldn’t spend any time in prison, given his cooperation with the investigation.

Manafort, on the other hand, faces a long time behind bars, having already been convicted on eight counts of tax and bank fraud.

The big question for Mueller watchers is what this reveals about the status of the probe. A recent Yahoo News report said Mueller’s team is “tying up loose ends,” with plans to finish up in the next month or two. Meanwhile, last month’s appointment of Matthew Whitaker, a Trump ally, as acting attorney general has raised concerns that he might interfere with Mueller’s long-awaited final report.

In the past, Mueller has used court documents to reveal information about his investigation to the public. While the Flynn sentencing memo was heavily redacted, today’s documents are an opportunity for him to put more details about the president’s actions on the public record.