Ex-Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort received a sentence of 47 months in federal prison this week after a federal jury convicted him on eight counts of tax and bank fraud in 2018. Manafort’s conviction made him the initial campaign associate of President Trump to be found guilty from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe. However, US District Judge TS Ellis stressed before the sentencing that the case had nothing to do with Russian interference in the US election in 2016.
Ellis notd the federal guidelines to sentence Manafort to up to 24 years in prison were too much for this case. Manafort will get credit for the nine months he already has served. He also has to pay a $50,000 fine.
Manafort has been dealing with several health issues while in jail, and he did not look well as he entered the federal courtroom in a wheelchair. He told the judge the last two years have been the toughest that he and his family have dealt with. He appeared to get choked up as he told the judge that he was appreciative of how the case was handled.
Federal prosecutors stated that Manafort, 69, hid some of his income when he was working overseas from the IRS. He fraudulently obtained millions of dollars in bank loans. He pleaded not guilty to all 18 counts. (Foxnews.com).
The judge said that he was surprised that Manafort never expressed any regret. He added that he thinks this case can be a warning to others to not try to hide income and engage in fraudulent activity. By not expressing regret, it is possible that he could face even a heavier sentence in the near future in a related case.
After the sentence was read, Manafort appeared to be emotional and red faced. His wife had a stone face. His attorneys appeared to be pleased with the sentence but it was rumored that his legal team is concerned about the sentencing set for next week. Manafort still is facing more years in prison from another federal case. After the conviction in Virginia, Manafort pleaded guilty in DC to foreign lobbying violations and witness tampering as part of a plea agreement with prosecutors. He has not yet been sentenced in that case. But Mueller’s team asked a judge recently to sentence him to 24 years and to pay a fine of $24 million.
But Manafort’s hope for a lesser sentence in the DC case appear to be dimming. A federal judge found that he had lied to Mueller’s team in response to some inquiries. This fuling would void his plea deal and would expose him to a longer sentence. There has been rampant speculation that the president may pardon him. He is on record as saying that he feels bad for Paul Manafort. There would be a political firestorm if Trump pardoned him, but it remains a possibility, given Trump’s close ties to the political operative.
Manafort’s defense attorneys suggested that the Mueller team had illegally ensnared their client in the probe; they claimed the case did not have anything to do with any Russian interference in the 2016 election. The star witness for the prosecution, Rick Gates, his ex-business partner who struck a deal to cooperate with the federal government, gave testimony during the trial that both men had committed bank fraud and tax fraud together.
Trump Argues Verdict Proves No Collusion
President Trump argued today that the case of Manafort has proven that the Trump campaign never worked with Russia to change election results in 2016. The president made a string of morning tweets and denounced any further investigations.
Trump tweeted that the judge and the lawyer in the Manafort case stated very loudly for the world to hear there was no collusion with Russia. But he said the witch hunt is continuing and that it is bad for the country. It appears that the Mueller investigation will continue and it is unclear what else may be uncovered.
Trump did not discuss if he will actually pardon Manafort, who was sentenced to four years in prison this week due to financial fraud crimes related to the investigation about Russia. The federal charges related to his work for political interests in Ukraine that are on the side of Russia.
Special counsel Robert Mueller still has not completed his investigation of possible Russian interference in the election two years ago. Members of various congressional committees doing their own investigations say there are many questions yet to be answered about Russia’s relationship with Trump.
Manafort’s illegal activities put him straight in the crosshairs of Mueller, who has been investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election for more than two years. (USAToday.com)
In addition to his prison sentence, he will need to pay restitution for at least $6 million for taxes never paid. Depending on how the government handles the forfeit proceeding, he could have to pay back up to $35 million. He also is going to receive three years of supervised release after his prison term. (CNN.com)
Manafort did not testify in his defense during the trial. The proceedings revealed a life of extreme excess, including python and ostrich jackets, as well as several luxury cars. He also bought a Hamptons mansion and spent hundreds of thousands of dollars upgrading it.
The prison sentence marks an amazing downfall for the longtime Trump political operative who was key in elective four Republican presidents, including Trump. He is one of about six people in the Trump orbit who have been charged as a result of the Mueller investigation. Manafort said during his brief court appearance that he was humiliated and ashamed for what he had done.
- Paul Manafort Sentenced to Four Years in Federal Prison. (2019). Retrieved from https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2019/03/07/paul-manafort-former-trump-campaign-chair-sentenced-xx-years/3080729002/
- Paul Manafort Sentenced on Bank and Tax Fraud Charges. (2019). Retrieved from https://www.foxnews.com/politics/paul-manafort-sentenced-on-bank-and-tax-fraud-charges