Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 23 May 2019

Paul Manafort given more than 3.5 years of extra prison time

Former Trump campaign chairman asked for mercy, saying he is his wife's primary caregiver

Kevin Downing, lead lawyer for former Donald Trump Campaign Manager Paul Manafort, speaks to members of the media outside federal court in Washington, DC. Bloomberg 
Kevin Downing, lead lawyer for former Donald Trump Campaign Manager Paul Manafort, speaks to members of the media outside federal court in Washington, DC. Bloomberg 

A federal judge yesterday sentenced former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort to another three and a half years in prison, questioning his remorse and rebuking him for his crimes and lies.

That makes it seven and a half years for Manafort, on top of the four-year term he received last week in a different case in Virginia.

“It is hard to overstate the number of lies and the amount of fraud and the extraordinary amount of money involved,” US District Judge Amy Berman Jackson told Manafort.

She sentenced him on conspiracy charges related to his foreign lobbying work and witness tampering.

Manafort, 69, pleaded with the judge not to impose any additional time to the sentence he received last week.

“I am sorry for what I have done and all the activities that have got us here today,” he said in a steady voice as he read from a written statement.

“While I cannot undo the past, I will ensure that the future will be very different.”

Manafort arrived in court in a wheelchair and told the judge he was the primary caregiver of his wife and wanted the chance for them to resume their life together.

“She needs me and I need her,” he said. “I ask you to think of this as you deliberate.

“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.”

The hearing was a milestone moment in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into possible co-ordination between the campaign of US President Donald Trump and Russia before the 2016 election.

Manafort was among the first charged in the investigation, and although the allegations did not relate to his work for Mr Trump, his foreign entanglements and business relationship with a man the US says has ties to Russian intelligence have made him a pivotal figure in the probe.

His plea for leniency followed prosecutor Andrew Weissmann’s scathing description of crimes that the government said spanned more than a ­decade and continued

even while Manafort was awaiting trial.

The prosecutor said Manafort took steps to conceal his foreign lobbying work, laundered millions of dollars to fund a lavish lifestyle and then, while on house arrest, coached other witnesses to lie on his behalf.

“I believe that is not reflective of someone who has learnt a harsh lesson. It is not a reflection of remorse,” Mr Weissmann said.

“It is evidence that something is wrong with sort of a moral compass, that someone in that position would choose to make that decision at that moment.”

Defence lawyer Kevin Downing suggested that Manafort was being unduly punished because of the “media frenzy” generated by the appointment of a special counsel.

“That results in a very harsh process for the accused,” Mr Downing said.

Yesterday’s sentencing comes in a busy week for the investigation.

Mr Mueller’s prosecutors on Tuesday updated a judge on the status of co-operation provided by one accused, former national security adviser Michael Flynn, and they are expected to do the same later in the week for another.

Updated: March 14, 2019 04:19 AM

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