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Manafort appears in court in wheelchair

Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort appeared in a wheelchair in a Virginia courtroom Friday afternoon, where he learned he will be sentenced next February even while his cooperation with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation continues.

His lawyer Kevin Downing said Manafort’s health has “significant issues,” related to the “terms of his confinement.” He asked Judge T.S. Ellis to move on to the sentencing phase quickly, so he could be moved out of confinement at the Alexandria detention center and into a Bureau of Prisons facility, if he is sentenced to prison.

Manafort, who was convicted on eight counts in August, appeared in court in a wheelchair, with his right foot raised off the ground and in a sock. He is experiencing a serious medical condition — inflammation that’s related to his diet, a person familiar with Manafort’s condition said.

In addition to setting the sentencing date for February 8, Ellis will dismiss 10 charges on which the jury could not reach a verdict during the August trial.

The prosecutors may be able to bring those charges back if his cooperation is not successful, and they will also have the option to ask the court to reduce his sentence later if Manafort is especially helpful to their ongoing investigation.

Manafort still may face an initial sentence of a decade or more in prison.

Manafort in September pleaded guilty before a different judge in DC to two criminal counts of conspiracy and obstruction of justice, setting in motion his cooperation deal to assist the special counsel’s probe into the 2016 presidential election.

Ellis asked Mueller’s team on Friday if they had an estimate on when Manafort’s cooperation would end, and they said in court they did not.

Manafort’s wife was not seen in the courtroom on Friday. She previously attended most of his hearings and the entirety of his Virginia trial.

The 69-year-old former Trump campaign chairman has been in jail since June, when a judge revoked his bail. He has been cooperating with special counsel Robert Mueller’s team of late. CNN reported that Manafort’s visits with the special counsel have stretched over at least nine days since he cut a deal a month ago, indicating he’s shared dozens of hours’ worth of details about Russians and Trump campaign affiliates.

Manafort’s trial and admissions of guilt focused on his lobbying work for pro-Russian Ukrainians and barely touched his time in the Trump campaign. It’s not yet known the extent of his contacts with Russians and Ukrainians throughout 2016, though Mueller is believed to have closely examined allegations that Manafort coordinated with the Russian government to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.

Manafort is central to several of the most notable moments of 2016. He was an attendee of the Trump Tower meeting where Russians purportedly offered information to the campaign that could hurt Hillary Clinton; he offered private briefings on the campaign to Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska; and he was instrumental at the Republican National Convention when the party softened its stance on Ukraine.

Manafort also stayed in touch through this year with his Russian associate Konstantin Kilimnik, whom prosecutors say has ties to the same Russian military intelligence operation that allegedly hacked the Democrats during the election.