The world was agog last week when Judge T. S. Ellis sentenced former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort to a paltry 47 months in prison for a laundry list of crimes, including money laundering, tax evasion, and defrauding banks.
The leniency of the sentence compared to the much harsher sentences given to people convicted of far lesser crimes raised public outrage with accusations of white privilege and expressions of disbelief at Judge Ellis’ description of Manafort having led an “otherwise blameless life” dominating social media.
Given that sentencing guidelines had called for incarceration ranging from 19 to 24 years in prison, the sentence was considered a mere slap on the wrist for such serious crimes involving such an enormous quantity of fraudulent financial activity.
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Luckily for proponents of equal justice, Manafort faces a second sentencing hearing this week for an entirely separate list of crimes that could counteract the kid-gloved punishment he received from the mercifully sympathetic Virginia judge.
Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s prosecution team submitted a pre-sentencing filing in the federal court in Washington DC today where the former Trump campaign chairman has pled guilty to conspiracy against the United States, conspiracy to obstruct justice, money laundering, and witness tampering in conjunction with his work as an unregistered foreign agent for Ukraine.
Manafort’s guilty plea came as part of an attempt to get a lighter sentence through a cooperation agreement with the Special Counsel after a jury found him guilty of the Virginia charges, but the deal with Mueller’s office fell apart after it was determined that Manafort was lying to the prosecutors and also communicating with PresidentTrump’s legal team about the lines of inquiry the prosecutors were pursuing with him.
Today’s filing by Mueller’s team demonstrates that they are hoping that the lightness of Manafort’s penalty in the first case will be more than compensated for by a heftier sentencing in the Washington DC court.
Taking a “less is more” approach, the prosecutors filed a simple one-paragraph statement with Judge Amy Berman Jackson and appended the transcript of the Virginia court’s sentencing hearing, allowing the disparity between the charges upon which Manafort was convicted and his relatively meager jail term to speak for itself.
“The United States of America, by and through Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller, III, files this status report to apprise the Court of a recent development in United States v. Paul J. Manafort, Jr., No. 1:18-cr-83 (E.D. Va.) that is pertinent to this Court’s upcoming sentencing decision. Attached to this status report as Exhibit A is the transcript from the sentencing hearing on March 7, 2019,” the filing reads before appending the 96-page transcript.
With sentencing guidelines in this case ranging up to 10 years in prison, proponents of equitable justice hope to see Judge Jackson maximize the penalties in her sentencing decision — particularly in light of Manafort’s malfeasance in his cooperation deal and the leniency of his punishment for his prior conviction — and to ensure that any sentence is served consecutively rather than concurrently so that his total sentence runs far beyond the 47 months minus time served that he currently faces.
We will have to wait until Wednesday’s hearing to discover what Judge Jackson decides. However, given her testy interactions with Manafort’s attorneys thus far in the proceedings, she is expected to be much less likely to cite the felonious campaign manager’s “blameless life” after his prior conviction in Virginia and hopes are high that she’ll throw the proverbial book at him.
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Original reporting by Ronn Blitzer at Law & Crime.