Ex-Trump campaign boss Paul Manafort jailed

Hugh Fox
March 8, 2019

US President Donald Trump's former campaign chief Paul Manafort faces potentially spending the rest of his life behind bars when a judge sentences him on Thursday for tax crimes and bank fraud. Ellis suggested early in the case that Mueller was prosecuting Manafort just to get to Trump, since the charges on which Manafort was found guilty after his August trial were unrelated to the special counsel's investigation into election interference or possible collusion with the Trump campaign.

Manafort, who turns 70 in April, faces potentially spending the rest of his life behind bars when he comes before Judge T.S. Ellis at on Thursday afternoon, USA time, in an Alexandria, Virginia, courtroom.

He pleaded guilty in September to two felony counts - conspiracy against the United States and conspiracy to obstruct justice - related to his illegal lobbying.

He then began a prolific lobbying career for pro-Kremlin politicians in Ukraine, especially former president Viktor Yanukovych.

Manafort's attorneys noted he spent 50 hours in proffer sessions with the special counsel for his plea agreement in the D.C. case.

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"Thank you for a fair trial", Manafort said.

At the outset of the hearing, Ellis addressed the larger special counsel investigation, saying Manafort was not convicted "for anything to do with Russian colluding in the presidential election".

The charges against Manafort were not connected to his role in the Trump campaign, which he headed for two months in 2016, but were related to lucrative consulting work he did for Ukrainian politicians from 2004 to 2014.

The men also met in Washington during the Trump inauguration and later in Madrid, according to the filings.

Ellis in Virginia has sentenced hundreds of defendants during his 30 years on the federal bench - and in a court that's typically considered tough on crime. Manafort turns 70 years old on April 1.

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Manafort's wife was joined today by two friends. Those proceedings revealed that prosecutors were highly interested in Manafort's 2016 interactions with an associate in his Ukraine dealings who has been linked to a Russian intel agency.

Before the sentence was handed down, Manafort asked the judge for compassion. Those types of interactions were routine for American officials trying to keep abreast of local developments, according to Michael Carpenter, a former National Security Council and State Department official focused on Russian Federation.

Manafort is due to be sentenced next Wednesday in another case brought by the special counsel, this time in Washington DC.

Manafort, in addition to Trump's campaign, worked on the White House bids of Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, George HW Bush and Bob Dole.

Attorney Brian Ketcham (L) arrives with other members of the Manafort defense team for a sentencing hearing for his client former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort at U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Virginia, U.S., March 7, 2019. They say that he has shown no remorse and that he still owes $6 million in restitution to the Internal Revenue Service.

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In their sentencing memo, Manafort's lawyers argue for leniency. "My life -personally and professionally-is in shambles". "The charges and associated publicity have brought intense, negative media coverage and scrutiny, have destroyed his career and have resulted in financial hardship for Mr. Manafort and his family". Under the original plea deal, Mueller had agreed to recommend that Manafort serve his Washington sentence concurrent with his Virginia sentence.

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