Monday , September 23 2019

Ex-Trump aide Manafort gets 7.5 years in prison


Paul Manafort will serve a total of seven-and-a-half years in prison for felonies uncovered as part of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian election interference, as a judge extended his sentence on Wednesday while delivering a blistering denunciation of his illegal conduct and habitual lying.
US District Judge Amy Berman Jackson in Washington ordered that Manafort must serve an additional 43 months for illegal lobbying and witness tampering beyond the 47 months he already received last week from a judge in Alexandria, Virginia, for financial crimes.
Minutes after the sentencing, New York District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. announced 16 new criminal counts against Manafort for alleged residential mortgage fraud and falsifying business records. Unlike for federal charges, presidents can’t pardon individuals for state crimes.
She said Manafort, who served as President Donald Trump’s campaign chairman, was an experienced lobbyist who knew exactly what he was doing by secretly running an $11 million influence campaign for pro-Russia politicians in Ukraine.
“It’s hard to overstate the number of lies and the amount of fraud and the amount of money involved,” Jackson said. “A significant amount of his career has been spent gaming the system.”
Manafort, who turns 70 next month and suffers from gout, sat in a wheelchair and didn’t flinch as Jackson delivered her sentence. Manafort told the judge that he was sorry for his crimes — a sentiment he failed to express when he was sentenced last week in Alexandria.
“I accept responsibility for the acts that have caused me to be here today,” Manafort said. “For all of my mistakes, I am remorseful.” Expressing sarcasm and derision, Jackson said she didn’t believe he was remorseful for his crimes. She also excoriated the defense team citing what she called the “no-collusion mantra” repeated by the defense, asserting that he didn’t conspire with Russians to influence the 2016 campaign.
Jackson’s combined sentence—well short of the 34 years he could have received — offers hope of a life after prison. He could still be pardoned for the federal convictions by Trump, who has stood by him through his prosecution.
In all, Jackson sentenced Manafort to five years for a conspiracy that included illegal lobbying and 13 months for witness tampering. But she said 30 months of her sentence would run at the same time as the term of just under four years that Manafort received last month for bank and tax fraud. With the 43 months that Jackson added, he’s sentenced to a total of 90 months, seven-and-a-half years. With credit for time served, he faces 81 months.
The sentence is the longest so far stemming from Mueller’s investigation of possible American involvement in the Russian conspiracy to interfere in the 2016 election. Manafort’s convictions were related to his secret lobbying campaign on behalf of pro-Kremlin politicians in Ukraine, not his role in the campaign.
Jackson chastised him for his conduct as an international consultant and for trying to tamper with witnesses. Manafort “is not Public Enemy No. 1,” the judge said. But she added that it was “hard to overstate” Manafort’s fraud and lies and that “there is no good explanation that would warrant the leniency that he requested.”
She also criticized the defense argument that Manafort wouldn’t have been charged if not for the special counsel’s investigation into unrelated election interference by Russia, pointing to a US investigation that predated the Russia investigation.

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