Court Battles

Second Manafort sentencing brings total to 7.5 years

A federal judge on Wednesday added 43 months to Paul Manafort’s prison term, bringing the former Trump campaign chairman’s overall sentence to 7 1/2 years.

Manafort, 69, appeared before District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson in Washington, D.C., wearing a suit with a light purple tie and seated in a wheelchair.

He faced sentencing for conspiracy charges that he pleaded guilty to as part of a deal with prosecutors in September. He faced a maximum of 10 years in prison for those crimes.

{mosads}The hearing came just days after a federal judge in Virginia sentenced Manafort to 47 months in prison for his conviction on eight criminal charges related to his foreign lobbying efforts that were uncovered in the course of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s election interference and potential coordination between the Trump campaign and Moscow.

Manafort will be given credit for the nine months he has already spent in jail, meaning he will spend fewer than seven years in prison.

He expressed remorse for his crimes and the pain he has caused his family in courtroom remarks Wednesday, describing himself as a changed man.

“I am sorry for what I have done and for all of the activities that have gotten us here today,” Manafort said Wednesday before his second sentence was handed down. “I know that it was my conduct that brought me here today. For that, I am remorseful.”

Manafort said the case has taken everything from him — properties, cash, life insurance and trust accounts for his children and grandchildren.

He asked Jackson for compassion, “if not for me, then for me family.”

{mossecondads}”My wife is 66 years old. I am her primary caregiver. She needs me, and I need her,” Manafort said.

Jackson said she believed Manafort was sincere in expressing regret but doubted he had demonstrated what she called a “genuine acceptance of responsibility.”

During last week’s sentencing before Judge T.S. Ellis III in Virginia, Manafort never apologized or expressed remorse for breaking the law.

Jackson, an Obama appointee, also took issue with the argument put forth by Manafort’s attorneys that he would have received a lesser punishment had he not been ensnared in Mueller’s investigation — a probe that has garnered intense public interest since it began almost two years ago.

“That argument falls flat,” Jackson said. “Saying, ‘I’m sorry I got caught,’ is not an inspiring plea for leniency.”

Wednesday’s proceedings bring to a close a case that attracted enormous public attention since Manafort was first charged in connection with Mueller’s probe in October 2017 with crimes stemming from his lobbying on behalf pro-Russia politicians in Ukraine.

The courtroom was packed to capacity for the sentencing hearing. Spectators and members of the media stood in line for hours to snag a coveted seat inside.

In the Virginia case, a jury in August found Manafort guilty of five counts of filing false tax returns, two counts of bank fraud and one count of failing to report overseas bank accounts.

To avoid a second criminal trial in D.C. on additional foreign lobbying-related charges, Manafort agreed to fully cooperate with Mueller’s probe.

But he blew the deal by lying to federal prosecutors about during the investigation, including his interactions with Konstantin Kilimnik, a Russian translator who worked for Manafort’s consulting business and is suspected by federal agents of having ties to Russian intelligence.

Those lies took center stage at Wednesday’s hearing, when Mueller’s prosecutors noted that he lied repeatedly to FBI agents and the grand jury about matters “material” to the investigation.

Mueller’s team did not take a position on Manafort’s sentence but described his crimes as deliberate and repeated, saying he hid his lobbying activity from the public and elected officials and later tampered with witnesses to obstruct the investigation into the activity.

“He engaged in crime again and again. He has not learned a harsh lesson. He served to undermine — not promote — American ideals of honesty, transparency and playing by the rules,” said Andrew Weissmann, a prosecutor working in the special counsel’s office.

Manafort’s lawyers asked for leniency. In remarks Wednesday, lead attorney Kevin Downing suggested his crimes had been overstated and that he was only subject to such intense scrutiny because of the high-profile nature of the Russia investigation.

“But for a brief stint as a campaign manager in a presidential election, I don’t think we would be here today,” Downing said.

Shortly before handing down the sentence, Jackson observed that there had been a fair amount of passion and “exaggeration” on both sides.

“This defendant is not public enemy No. 1,” Jackson said. “But he’s not a victim either.”

“It is hard to overstate the number of lies and the amount of fraud and the extraordinary amount of money involved,” Jackson said. “There is no explanation that would warrant the leniency requested.”

She said Manafort laundered money not to support a family but to sustain an opulent lifestyle, “to have more houses than a family can enjoy and more suits than one man can wear.”

A pale and gray-haired Manafort faced Jackson as she described at length how she reached her sentence but did not show any emotion when his punishment had been read.

Downing, however, repeatedly shook his head in disapproval.

“It’s callous, it was hostile and totally unnecessary,” he said talking to a swarm of reporters and TV cameras outside the courthouse as protesters shouted over him, calling Manafort a traitor.

When Downing said the judge “conceded there was absolutely no evidence of any Russian collusion in this case,” some protesters accused him of lying.

“Liar!” one man shouted. “That’s not what she said.”

Manafort’s trial represented the first court test in Mueller’s sprawling investigation. The onetime Trump campaign boss was first indicted in October 2017 on charges stemming from his lobbying on behalf of Viktor Yanukovych and Ukraine’s Party of Regions.

The charges he faced in Virginia and D.C. did not relate to work he did for the Trump campaign or allege any collusion between the Trump campaign and Moscow. However, Manafort, who worked in the top echelons of the campaign for five months unpaid, has been viewed as a key figure in the probe.

Trump has long denied any collusion between his campaign and Russia, often deriding the investigation as a “witch hunt.” Last week he said he felt “badly” for Manafort and that the proceedings in Virginia proved there was “no collusion with Russia.”

Jackson said her ruling would not vindicate or incriminate anyone under investigation by the special counsel, nor should it be seen as an endorsement or disapproval of Mueller’s probe.

She also said her decision should not bear any weight on the question of whether members of the Trump campaign conspired with the Russian government to interfere in the election.

“It was not resolved — one way or another — by this case,” Jackson said.

While Wednesday’s proceedings close a key chapter in the Mueller investigation, it does not mark an end to Manafort’s legal troubles. Minutes after he was sentenced, the Manhattan district attorney unveiled a 16-count indictment against Manafort related to a mortgage fraud scheme. 

Even if Trump were to issue a presidential pardon for Manafort’s federal crimes, it would not absolve him of any state-related offenses.

Trump was tight-lipped Wednesday about the prospects of a pardon for Manafort, saying only that he feels “very badly” for his former campaign chairman.

“It’s a very sad situation,” Trump told reporters at the White House. “Certainly, on a human basis, it’s a very sad thing. I feel badly for him.”

Updated at 3:15 p.m.

Tags federal court Manafort sentencing Paul Manafort Robert Mueller Russia Investigation

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