- Paul Manafort was sentenced on Wednesday in the second of two cases against him from the special counsel Robert Mueller. In this case, brought in Washington, DC, Manafort pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy and one count of obstruction.
- For the first count, a federal judge sentenced Manafort to 60 months in prison, with 30 months concurrent with his sentence in the first case, brought in Virginia, which resulted in a sentence of 47 months.
- For the second count, the judge sentenced Manafort to 13 months in prison.
- In all, Manafort was sentenced to 90 months, or 7 1/2 years, in prison – well short of federal sentencing guidelines.
- Legal experts said that based on standard federal sentencing deductions, 15% of Manafort’s sentence is likely to be shaved off for good behaviour, and that an additional nine months might be taken off for time already served.
- That means Manafort may ultimately serve 68 months and be out of prison by late 2024.
Paul Manafort, the former chairman of President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign, was sentenced Wednesday in the second of two cases against him from the special counsel Robert Mueller.
Last week, Manafort was sentenced to 47 months in prison in the first case, brought in Virginia.
In the second case, brought in Washington, DC, he pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy and one count of obstruction.
US District Judge Amy Berman Jackson sentenced Manafort to 60 months for the first count, with 30 months concurrent with his sentence in the Virginia case. For the second count, Jackson sentenced Manafort to 13 months in prison.
In total, Manafort has been sentenced to 90 months, or 7 1/2 years, in prison.
In Virginia, Manafort was charged with multiple counts of tax fraud, bank fraud, and failure to report foreign bank accounts. He was convicted of eight of 18 total counts.
In Washington, DC, Manafort was charged with additional counts of making false statements, obstruction, conspiracy, money laundering, and failure to register as a foreign agent. He struck a plea deal before going to trial and pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy and one count of obstruction. But Jackson voided the deal after finding that Manafort lied to prosecutors about several events in the Russia investigation.
During Wednesday’s sentencing hearing, prosecutors argued heavily for a strict sentence for the former Trump campaign chairman.
“Mr. Manafort committed crimes that undermined our political process,” Andrew Weissmann, a prosecutor on Mueller’s team, told the court.
He also emphasised how serious it was for Manafort to illegally lobby for foreign governments on US soil. “It is hard to imagine a more righteous prosecution of this act,” Weissmann said, adding that it is not the first time someone has been prosecuted for violating the Foreign Agents Registration Act.
Weissmann also pointed to the crimes Manafort committed after already being charged in the Russia investigation.
“After being indicted, while on bail from two federal courts in a high-profile matter,” Manafort engaged in criminal conduct that “goes to the heart of the American justice system,” Weissmann said.
When Manafort had a chance to speak before the court, he expressed remorse. “I’m sorry for what I’ve done,” he said, adding that his “behaviour in the future will be very different” and that he had “already begun to change.”
Jackson said she didn’t think Manafort was being sincere in his apology. She also noted that evidence of “any conspiracy, collusion” was “not presented in this case.”
“If the people don’t have the facts, democracy doesn’t work,” Jackson added. “Court is one of those places where facts still matter.”
Prosecutors had long urged the court to impose a harsh sentence on the former Trump campaign chairman, describing him as a “bold” and “hardened” criminal whose actions warrant a tough punishment.
Manafort’s conduct, even after he pleaded guilty to two federal crimes, “reflects a hardened adherence to committing crimes and lack of remorse,” prosecutors wrote in a sentencing memo, adding that he “repeatedly and brazenly violated the law.”
They added that not only did Manafort engage in criminal conduct leading up to his first indictment, but his actions also “remarkably went unabated” afterward.
“The sentence in this case must take into account the gravity of this conduct, and serve both to specifically deter Manafort and generally deter those who would commit a similar series of crimes,” the memo said.
Manafort’s lawyers have downplayed the severity of his conduct and accused Mueller of “spreading misinformation” to “vilify” Manafort.
Noting that Manafort was a first-time, nonviolent offender, defence attorneys wrote in an earlier sentencing memo that Manafort accepted responsibility for the counts of conspiracy and obstruction and “admitted his guilt with respect to the conduct involved in the remaining charges in this case.”
Legal experts said that based on standard federal sentencing deductions, 15% of Manafort’s sentence is likely to be shaved off for good behaviour, and that an additional nine months might be taken off for time already served. That means Manafort could spend 68 months in prison and be out by early 2024.
The ruling last week stirred controversy because it fell well short of federal sentencing guidelines, which recommend 19 1/2 to 24 years in prison for the crimes Manafort was convicted of in Virginia. Legal experts also criticised that judge’s statement that Manafort had lived an “otherwise blameless” life before being convicted of financial crimes.
“A below-guidelines sentence would have been perfectly fair but 47 months is a joke,” said Elie Honig, a former federal prosecutor in the Southern District of New York.
“Steal millions from US Government, violate bail, get convicted by jury, fake cooperate, lie to prosecutors, refuse to accept responsibility – and get an enormous break. That’s an unjust sentence,” Honig added.
Walter Shaub, an attorney focusing on government ethics who was formerly a director of the US Office of Government Ethics, used Manafort’s sentence as an example of as a system in which some get harsher sentences for lesser crimes.
“They sure have two different kinds of justice in this country,”he said in a tweet.
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