WASHINGTON–A federal judge in D.C. sentenced former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort to spend an additional 43 months in prison, after a 47- month sentence in his Virginia case, as part of the unregistered foreign lobbying and money laundering case brought by special counsel Robert Mueller.
U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson technically sentenced Manafort to 60 months for a conspiracy count and 13 months for a witness tampering charge. She said 30 months of the conspiracy count sentence would run concurrently with the 47-month sentence Manafort received in his separate case in Virginia. The remainder of the conspiracy sentence and the witness tampering sentence were tacked on to end of the Virginia sentence. Manafort is also getting nine months credit of time already served. That means, in total, he’s facing 81 months — nearly seven more years — in prison.
Manafort faced a maximum sentence of 10 years for the crimes he pleaded guilty to in the D.C. case. Berman Jackson’s sentence comes less than one week after the judge in Virginia, U.S District Judge T.S. Ellis, surprised observers with his relatively light sentence for Manafort’s conviction there. The probation office had recommended Manafort receive 19-24 years in that case. Ellis said he opted to go significantly below those guidelines to avoid disparities between Manafort and others who were sentenced to only months in prison for similar crimes.
Berman Jackson, in announcing her sentence, said Manafort was “not public enemy number one, but he’s not a victim either.” She said “both sides” had “passion” and “hyperbole” in the sentencing submissions. However, she spent the bulk of her remarks bashing the claims that the defense made, calling some of them “disingenuous,” not “persuasive” and reflective of Manafort’s “lack of candor.”
Manafort had pleaded guilty to conspiracy against the United States and to witness tampering in the D.C. case as part of a cooperation deal, which later imploded over allegations that Manafort lied to investigators.
Berman Jackson said that Manafort’s attempts to “minimize” his conduct and “shield” others” were “troubling.”
“Court is one of those places that facts still matter,” she said
At Wednesday’s hearing, Manafort made remarks were notably more apologetic than his comments at last week’s sentencing in Virginia.
“I am sorry for what I have done,” Manafort said Wednesday, adding that he was “remorseful” for his “mistakes.”
Mueller prosecutor Andrew Weissmann, meanwhile, argued that Manafort “served to undermine and not promote American ideals.” He said that Manafort could have been a leader for the country, but at “each juncture” Manafort “chose to take a different path.”
Berman Jackson found last month that there was a preponderance of evidence that Manafort lied in three of the five topic areas where investigators alleged the false statements. Among those false statements were lies Manafort told about his interactions with Konstantin Kilimnik, his longtime business associate who has been tied to a Russian intelligence agency.
Neither Manafort’s D.C. case nor the Virginia case — which focused on financial crimes — alleged collusion with the Russian government to influence the 2016 election. Nonetheless, Wednesday’s sentencing highlights President Trump’s tendency to surround himself with people who later plead guilty to or are convicted of various crimes. Trump’s former fixer Michael Cohen will begin in May serving his three-year sentence for crimes that included conduct related to Trump. The President’s ex-National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and Trump campaign deputy chairman Rick Gates — a Manafort protege and former co-defendant in Manafort’s case — both pleaded guilty in Mueller’s probe and became cooperating witnesses.
The charges Manafort faced in D.C. related to consulting work he and Gates did in Ukraine for a pro-Russian political party. They failed to register their Ukrainian lobbying in the U.S.— as required by the Foreign Agent Registration Act — and also failed to pay taxes on some of the millions of dollars they earned.
While not explicitly tied to Russian election meddling, the Ukraine work first raised public suspicions about Manafort’s Russia ties as it connected him to oligarchs aligned with the Kremlin. Transcripts of hearings and other documents released in the case revealed prosecutors were keenly interested in those links, and in his interactions with Kilimnik. A Mueller prosecutor told Berman Jackson that a 2016 meeting between the two goes “very much to the heart of the what the Special Counsel’s Office is investigating.”
Manafort has denied participating in any conspiracy with Russia to influence the election.
His prison sentence Wednesday marks the dramatic fall of a GOP operative who worked on several presidential campaigns before Trump. He leveraged his resume in U.S. politics to get hired by some of the most notorious and at times, outright authoritarian, international politicians. A human rights group once called the work of his consulting firm the “torturers’ lobby.”
In the meantime, Manafort led a flashy lifestyle that included multiple homes, Yankees baseball box seats, international jet-setting and a jacket made of ostrich skin. His offer to work for Trump’s campaign for free reportedly appealed to the then-candidate. After Manafort was ousted from the campaign in August, as scrutiny of his Ukraine grew, he kept in touch with key people in Trump’s inner circle.
Manafort was charged in D.C. in October 2017, after a summer raid on his home made clear he was in investigators’ crosshairs. He was placed on house arrest as his lawyers struggled to come up with an acceptable bail package. In February 2018, around the same time Gates flipped, Mueller brought a separate bank fraud and tax fraud case in Virginia — where a jury later convicted him on eight of the 18 counts. In June, he was thrown into jail, where he has remained since, due to the witness tampering allegations.
He came to the plea deal with Mueller just before trial in the D.C. case was to begin in September. By November the agreement fell apart over the government’s allegation that he lied.
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