Manafort's Second Sentencing Pushes Prison Total to 7 1/2 Years
(Bloomberg) -- Paul Manafort will serve a total of seven-and-a-half years in prison for felonies uncovered during Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian election interference, as a judge extended his punishment Wednesday and delivered a blistering denunciation of his illegal conduct and habitual lying.
U.S. 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.
Jackson said Manafort, who was 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 in a husky voice. “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 for its repeated assertions that Manafort didn’t conspire with Russians to influence the 2016 campaign. Collusion, she said, wasn’t part of his criminal case.
“The ‘no-collusion’ mantra is simply a non sequitur,” she said. “Saying I’m sorry I got caught is not an inspiring plea for leniency.”
Outside the courthouse after the hearing, defense lawyer Kevin Downing continued the refrain, saying Jackson found “there was absolutely no evidence of any Russian collusion in this case. That makes two courts have ruled no evidence of any collusion with any Russians.”
He said it was “very sad” that Jackson imposed “such a callous, long sentence that is totally unnecessary.” As hecklers shouted at him and called him a liar, Downing walked away from reporters without answering shouted questions about the New York case.
Manafort’s combined sentence -- well short of the 34 years he could have received in Virginia and Washington -- offers him hope of life after prison. He could still be pardoned 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 week for bank and tax fraud. With the 43 new months that Jackson added, he faces a total of 90 months, or seven-and-a-half years. With credit for time served, 81 months remain.
The sentence is the longest so far stemming from Mueller’s Russia investigation. 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 his conduct as an international lobbyist and for tampering 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, pointing to a Justice Department investigation that predated the Russia investigation.
Manafort told the court that he and his 66-year-old wife depend on each other.
“She needs me, and I need her,” Manafort said. “This case has already taken everything away from me already -- my properties, my cash, my life insurance, my trust accounts for my children and grandchildren. Please let my wife and me be together.”
Manafort was considered a gifted political strategist who advised Presidents Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and Trump, all Republicans. As an international political lobbyist, he reaped millions of dollars by working for strongmen like Jonas Savimbi in Angola, Ferdinand Marcos in the Philippines and Mobutu Sese Seko in Zaire.
On Monday, the White House press secretary, Sarah Sanders, said that Trump would “make his decision” on whether to pardon Manafort “when he’s ready.”
Last week, the Alexandria judge recommended that Manafort serve his prison term at the minimum security federal prison camp in Cumberland, Maryland, a request that Downing repeated to Jackson on Wednesday.
The case is U.S. v. Manafort, 18-cr-83, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Virginia (Alexandria). The other case is U.S. v. Manafort, 17-cr-201, U.S. District Court, District of Columbia (Washington).
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