Check and check mate for Paul Manafort


The second court to sentence former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort in the past week delivered its sentence today, giving him a additional 3.5 years in prison. Paul Manafort Sentenced to 3.5 More Years in Prison:

President Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, has been ordered to serve a total of seven and a half years in prison after a second federal judge added more time to his sentence on Wednesday, saying he “spent a significant portion of his career gaming the system.”

Judge Amy Berman Jackson of Federal District Court in Washington sentenced Mr. Manafort, 69, on two conspiracy counts that encompassed a host of crimes, including money-laundering, obstruction of justice and failing to disclose lobbying work that earned him tens of millions of dollars over more than a decade.

“It is hard to overstate the number of lies and the amount of fraud and the amount of money involved,” she said, reeling off Mr. Manafort’s various offenses, rapid-fire. “There is no question that this defendant knew better and he knew what he was doing.”

Each charge carried a maximum of five years. But Judge Jackson noted that one count was closely tied to the same bank and tax fraud scheme that a federal judge in Virginia had sentenced Mr. Manafort for last week. Under sentencing guidelines, she said, those punishments should largely overlap, not be piled on top of each other. Mr. Manafort was also expected to get credit for the nine months he has already spent in jail.

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Andrew Weissmann, one of Mr. Mueller’s top deputies, said Mr. Manafort had squandered his education and a wealth of opportunities to lead a criminal conspiracy for more than a decade. Once caught, he obstructed justice by tampering with two witnesses, he said, and then repeatedly lied to prosecutors and to a grand jury after he agreed to cooperate with the special counsel’s office in September.

“He served to undermine — not promote — American ideals of honesty, transparency and playing by the rules,” Mr. Weissmann said.

Mr. Manafort asked the judge in Washington not to add to his time in prison. “This case has taken everything from me, already,” he said, running through a list of his financial assets that now belong to the government. “Please let my wife and I be together,” he added, hunched over in a wheelchair because of a flare-up of gout. Oh, boo-hoo!

Mr. Manafort’s lawyer Kevin Downing told the judge that while he was not accusing the office of the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, of mounting a politically motivated prosecution, “but for a short stint as campaign manager in a national election, I don’t think we would be here today.”

But the judge firmly rejected the argument that the prosecution was somehow “misguided or invalid,” saying it showed Mr. Manafort did not fully accept responsibility for his crimes. She suggested that defense lawyers kept repeating it not because they hoped to influence her thinking, but “for some other audience” — an apparent reference to Mr. Trump, who has commented repeatedly on the Manafort case.

In fact, Kevin Downing after the hearing went out on the court house steps and once again repeated his pathetic performance from last week for the “audience of one,” reciting Trump’s mantra of “no collusion” in a bid for a pardon for his client (neither Manafort case involved the collusion conspiracy to defraud the United States claims that may yet be filed against Paul Manafort when the Special Counsel wraps up his investigation).

While Kevin Downing was making a pathetic disgrace of himself, Manhattan district attorney Cyrus R. Vance announced that Paul Manafort has been charged in New York with mortgage fraud and more than a dozen other state felonies in an effort to ensure he will still face prison time if Mr. Trump pardons him for his federal crimes. New York Charges Manafort With 16 Crimes. If He’s Convicted, Trump Can’t Pardon Him. Check mate.

News of the indictment came shortly after Mr. Manafort was sentenced to his second federal prison term in two weeks; he now faces a combined sentence of more than seven years for tax and bank fraud and conspiracy in two related cases brought by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III.

The president has broad power to issue pardons for federal crimes, but has no such authority in state cases.

The new state charges against Mr. Manafort are contained in a 16-count indictment that alleges a yearlong scheme in which he falsified business records to obtain millions of dollars in loans, Mr. Vance said in a news release after the federal sentencing.

“No one is beyond the law in New York,” he said, adding that the investigation by the prosecutors in his office had “yielded serious criminal charges for which the defendant has not been held accountable.”

The indictment grew out of an investigation that began in 2017, when the Manhattan prosecutors began examining loans Mr. Manafort received from two banks.

Last week, a grand jury hearing evidence in the case voted to charge Mr. Manafort with residential mortgage fraud, conspiracy, falsifying business records and other charges. A lawyer for Mr. Manafort could not immediately be reached for comment.

[Manafort] could face up to 25 years in New York state prison if convicted of the most serious charges in the new indictment, which is expected to be announced later on Wednesday.

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[T]he Manhattan prosecutors deferred their inquiry in order not to interfere with Mr. Mueller’s larger investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

In recent months, prosecutors in the district attorney’s Economic Crimes Bureau resumed their inquiry and began presenting evidence to the grand jury, several people with knowledge of the matter have said.

The district attorney’s office determined some time ago that it would seek charges whether or not the president pardoned Mr. Manafort.

Mr. Manafort’s lawyers likely will challenge the new indictment on double jeopardy grounds. New York state law includes stronger protections than those provided by the United States Constitution, but prosecutors in Mr. Vance’s office have expressed confidence that they would prevail, people with knowledge of the matter said.

The New York Attorney General and the Southern District of New York, as well as Special Counsel Robert Mueller, may not be done with Paul Manafort as well.

Paul Manafort’s only hope of avoiding prison time was cooperating with prosecutors. Instead, he acted as if he was beyond the reach of the law and continued to engage in new crimes.

Presidential pardons only apply to federal crimes. Trump can’t save Manafort from a state conviction. So you really have to wonder what motivated Manafort to do what he did in entering into a plea agreement but then violating it by failing to cooperate with prosectors and obstructing justice.

Is Manafort just a loyal capo in the Trump crime family, willing to go to prison for “The Don”? As Nancy Pelosi said in another context, “he’s just not worth it.”

UPDATE: Judge Amy Berman Jackson said the “no collusion” mantra is bunk. Paul Manafort’s judge strongly rebukes Manafort’s — and Trump’s — ‘no collusion’ refrain:

Judge Jackson not only rejected that argument in sentencing him to 43 additional months in prison, she also rejected the entire argument behind it.

“The ‘no collusion’ refrain that runs through the entire defense memorandum is unrelated to matters at hand,” she said. “The ‘no collusion’ mantra is simply a non sequitur.”

Then she added: “The ‘no collusion’ mantra is also not accurate, because the investigation is still ongoing.”

The Manafort team’s use of the “no collusion” mantra was so conspicuous that Judge Jackson mused that it might be intended for another audience besides the court, an apparent reference to Trump and the possibility of Manafort landing a pardon.

And after sentencing, Downing came outside the court and immediately proved her point for her.