Paul Manafort, Donald Trump’s former campaign manager, was sentenced in a Washington, D.C., federal court Wednesday to an additional 43 months in prison for conspiracy and fraud.
That 43-month sentence is on top of the 47 months he was already sentenced to last Thursday—a sentence that some found to be too lenient.
According to the Washington Post, when handing down her sentence Wednesday, Judge Amy Berman Jackson was critical of Manafort and his defense team for their efforts to blame his situation on his decision to work with Donald Trump in the first place.
“This defendant is not public enemy number one, but he’s also not a victim either,” Jackson said. “There’s no question this defendant knew better, and he knew exactly what he was doing.”
There is still a chance Trump could (ab)use his presidential powers to pardon Manafort and help him escape his prison sentence. As the Post notes, Trump has refused to discuss a potential pardon in the Manafort case, but he has publicly called Manafort brave for fighting this case.
This is contrary to the statements he has made about his former national security adviser Michael Flynn, and his former attorney and fixer Michael Cohen—both of whom have cooperated with the investigation headed by Robert Mueller as to whether there was Russian collusion in the 2016 presidential election that left us with the problem we have sitting in the White House right this minute.
His praise of Manafort could be a hint that he does plan to issue a pardon, and if that is the case, Paul Manafort will have gotten away with his crimes.
Prosecutors in the state of New York want to make sure that Manafort sees the inside of a jail cell without the potential for a pardon, so shortly after Manafort was given his second prison sentence in a week, he was indicted on 16 state felonies, including mortgage fraud.
The New York Times reports that Manhattan district attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. said the charges are an effort to ensure Manafort will still face prison time even if Trump pardons him on his federal crimes.
The president would not be able to pardon Manafort on state charges if he is convicted.
The 16-charge indictment in New York accuses Manafort of a yearlong scheme that involved him falsifying business records in order to obtain millions of dollars in loans.
“No one is beyond the law in New York,” Vance said. He added that the investigation by the prosecutors in his office had “yielded serious criminal charges for which the defendant has not been held accountable.”
The Manhattan prosecutors investigation began in 2017, and after a grand jury heard evidence last week, it voted to charge Manafort with residential mortgage fraud, conspiracy, falsifying business records and other charges.
If convicted, he could face up to 25 years in a New York state prison—a much heavier sentence than the 7 ½ year slap on the wrist he received in federal court.
The Times predicts that Manafort’s legal team will challenge the new indictment on double jeopardy grounds, but prosecutors feel confident they will prevail.
Stay tuned. We sure will.