President Donald Trump said Wednesday that he felt “badly” for his former campaign chief, Paul Manafort, but had not given a thought to pardoning him.
Edited by: JV Staff
A federal judge in Washington sentenced Manafort on Wednesday to 3½ years in prison for conspiracy and witness tampering stemming from his work as a lobbyist for Ukraine’s former pro-Russian president.
The sentence came on top of the nearly four years in prison Manafort received last week on federal charges of tax and bank fraud.
Minutes after Manafort was sentenced Wednesday, New York state prosecutors announced they had indicted him on state charges of falsifying financial records and mortgage fraud.
Although Trump could pardon Manafort on the federal crimes, he has no power to do the same on the state charges, which could result in a 25-year prison term.
U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson was unmoved by Manafort’s plea for mercy.
“I am sorry for what I have done and all the activities that have gotten us here today,” he said from a wheelchair. “This case has taken everything from me already — my properties, my cash, my life insurance, my trust accounts for my children and my grandchildren, and more.”
Prosecutor Andrew Weissman tore into Manafort, saying the defendant had concealed his foreign lobbying work from the government, laundered millions of dollars to fund a life of luxury and coached witnesses to lie on his behalf.
“I believe that is not reflective of someone who has learned a harsh lesson. It is not a reflection of remorse,” Weissman said. “It is evidence that something is wrong with sort of a moral compass.”
Jackson said Manafort was only sorry that he got caught and was not worthy of leniency.
Manafort’s lawyer, Kevin Downing, said that the judge showed hostility and callousness toward his client and that he was disappointed with the sentence.
The charges against Manafort came out of special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
While Manafort was not on trial for allegations that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia, he pleaded guilty of financial wrongdoing and promised to cooperate with Mueller in exchange for a lighter prison sentence.
But another judge said Manafort violated the plea deal by lying to investigators and was no longer entitled to a lesser prison term.
Manafort’s case, while specifically dealing with his lobbying in Ukraine and financial crimes, is at the center of Mueller’s Russia investigation. Prosecutors said Manafort shared campaign polling data with Konstantin Kilimnik, a business associate identified by prosecutors as having ties to Russian intelligence.
The prosecutors said Manafort and Kilimnik met secretly during the presidential campaign and that their encounter cut “to the heart” of the investigation of whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia to help him win.
Mueller’s investigation appears to be winding down, although no deadline has been set for him to deliver a report on his investigation to the Justice Department and Attorney General William Barr. (VOA)