Manafort Sentenced to 47 Months in 1 of 2 Cases Against Him
Many believe former Trump presidential campaign manager Paul Manafort got off light with his sentence of 47 months in prison. But he has another sentencing soon with a Virginia judge who many expect will be far less lenient. The decision:
Paul Manafort, the political consultant and Trump presidential campaign chairman whose lucrative work in Ukraine and ties to well-connected Russians made him a target of the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, was sentenced to nearly four years in prison on Thursday in the financial fraud case that left his grand lifestyle and power-broker reputation in ruins.
The sentence in the highest-profile criminal case mounted by the special counsel’s office was far lighter that the 19- to 24-year prison term recommended under advisory sentencing guidelines. Judge T. S. Ellis III of the United States District Court in Alexandria, Va., said that although Mr. Manafort’s crimes were “very serious,” following the guidelines would have resulted in an unduly harsh punishment.
A team of Mr. Mueller’s prosecutors sat glum-faced while Judge Ellis delivered his decision. Mr. Manafort, who suffers from gout and came to the hearing in a wheelchair with his foot heavily bandaged, had asked the judge for compassion. “To say I feel humiliated and ashamed would be a gross understatement,” he said in a barely audible voice, reading from a laptop.
Of the half-dozen former Trump associates prosecuted by Mr. Mueller, Mr. Manafort garnered the harshest punishment yet in the case that came to a conclusion on Thursday — the first of two for which Mr. Manafort is being sentenced this month. While prosecutors sought no specific sentence, they spent much of the three-hour hearing sparring with the judge over the evidence.
For nearly two years, prosecutors pursued Mr. Manafort on two tracks, charging him with more than two dozen felonies, including obstruction of justice, bank fraud and violations of lobbying laws. While they ultimately won Mr. Manafort’s agreement to cooperate, prosecutors said on Thursday that Mr. Manafort provided little information of value for their inquiry into Russia’s election interference and the degree of involvement by Trump associates.
Paul Manafort got a sharply reduced sentenced of 47 months for fraud on Thursday—from a federal judge who said the political operative known as the “torturers’ lobbyist” had lived an “otherwise blameless life.”
The guidelines called for a sentence of 19 to 24 years, but Judge T.S. Ellis said that was “excessive” and gave President Trump’s former campaign chair less than four years for a series of financial crimes linked to his business.
Before learning his fate, Manafort, 69, sat in a wheelchair and whined that he had been “shamed and humiliated” by scandal.
“The past two years have been the most difficult of my life,” Manafort said, dressed in a green jail jumpsuit that was in stark contrast to the $15,000 ostrich jacket that was one of the exhibits at his trial.
“The person that the media has described me as is not someone I recognize. To say I have been humiliated and shamed would be a gross understatement.
“The greatest pain I feel is the pain of my family. I thank my family for their outpouring of support. I have had much time to repent. I ask you for your compassion.”
It remains to be seen how much time Manafort will end up serving. He faces a second sentencing in another court, and prosecutors from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office have accused him of angling for a pardon from Trump.
The judge had been critical of Mueller’s team from the start of the case—at one point accusing them of using the indictment to “tighten the screw” on Manafort and get him to cooperate with their probe of possible collusion with Russia during the 2016 election.
Some reaction on Twitter:
Ex-federal prosecutor Glenn Kirschner reacts to the Manafort sentencing: "As a former prosecutor, I'm embarrassed. As an American, I'm upset … I am just as disappointed with Judge Ellis … It's an outrage and it's disrespectful of the American people."
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) March 8, 2019
I couldn’t disagree more, @thisisrobsmith. Manafort’s crimes are way more harmful than most that pose a physical safety threat. You’re totally misdiagnosing the sources of America’s excessive incarceration. This is Exhibit A in the case that our system is rigged toward $$$ https://t.co/Sxx5LBQqVF
— Laurence Tribe (@tribelaw) March 8, 2019
Have faith, folks. As a prosecutor, I didn’t like every ruling I got from a judge. It’s easy to be disappointed in the system when something like this happens. But the rule of law is still strong and we will get justice.
— Joyce Alene (@JoyceWhiteVance) March 8, 2019
The statement by Paul Manafort’s lawyer after an already lenient sentence — repeating the President’s mantra of no collusion — was no accident. It was a deliberate appeal for a pardon.
One injustice must not follow another.
— Adam Schiff (@RepAdamSchiff) March 8, 2019
Lady who voted accidentally got more time than Paul Manafort.
— Soledad O'Brien (@soledadobrien) March 8, 2019
Paul Manafort’s lenient 4-year sentence — far below the recommended 20 years despite extensive felonies and post-conviction obstruction — is a reminder of the blatant inequities in our justice system that we all know about, because they reoccur every week in courts across America
— Ari Melber (@AriMelber) March 8, 2019
Mueller had the choice to recommend Manafort’s DC sentence be served consecutively or concurrently and decided to wait and see what Ellis did first. Glad they still have that card to play because justice was not served tonight.
— Matthew Miller (@matthewamiller) March 8, 2019
— Rob Flaherty (@Rob_Flaherty) March 8, 2019
For context on Manafort’s 47 months in prison, my client yesterday was offered 36-72 months in prison for stealing $100 worth of quarters from a residential laundry room.
— Scott Hechinger (@ScottHech) March 8, 2019
Try being a black kid with 1.00001 ounces of marijuana an not getting the mandatory minimum.
— Rick Wilson (@TheRickWilson) March 8, 2019
POTUS had been hoping for Manafort to get a very stiff sentence, so that he could then base his commutation on the sentence being outrageous. Now, it may actually prove harder for him to interfere.
— Rogue POTUS Staff (@RoguePOTUSStaff) March 8, 2019