Trump's ex-campaign chief Manafort faces 43 more months in prison, and new charges

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Published 13.03.2019 19:23
Updated 13.03.2019 20:55
In this file photo taken on Monday, Nov. 6, 2017, Paul Manafort, President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman, leaves the federal courthouse in Washington. (AP Photo)
In this file photo taken on Monday, Nov. 6, 2017, Paul Manafort, President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman, leaves the federal courthouse in Washington. (AP Photo)

President Donald Trump's former campaign chief Paul Manafort, already facing 47 months in prison for tax and bank fraud, was sentenced to an additional 43 months in prison Wednesday on conspiracy charges.

"It is hard to overstate the number of lies and the amount of fraud and the extraordinary amount of money involved," U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson told Manafort Wednesday before sentencing him on conspiracy charges related to his foreign lobbying work and witness tampering.

Manafort was also indicted on 16 new charges in New York including residential mortgage fraud, state prosecutors said Wednesday.

Less than an hour after Manafort was sentenced on federal conspiracy charges in Washington, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance announced that the new charges were filed in state Supreme Court last Thursday.

In the year-long fraud scheme, Manafort and others falsified business records to illegally obtain millions of dollars, Vance said in a statement

"No one is beyond the law in New York," he said.

Trump has repeatedly defended him and floated the idea of granting a pardon, but would not be able to do so in a state case.

Manafort had asked the federal court for mercy, saying the criminal charges against him had "taken everything from me already." He pleaded with the judge not to impose any additional prison time.

"I am sorry for what I have done and all the activities that have gotten us here today," Manafort said in a calm and 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."

The 69-year-old, who arrived in court in a wheelchair, said he was the primary caregiver for his wife and wanted the chance for them to resume their life together.

"She needs me and I need her. I ask you to think of this and our need for each other as you deliberate," Manafort said. "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 coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia in the 2016 election campaign. Manafort was among the first people charged in the investigation, and though the allegations did not relate to his work for Trump, his foreign entanglements and business relationship with a man the U.S. 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 characterization 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 learned a harsh lesson. It is not a reflection of remorse," 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."

Defense lawyer Kevin Downing suggested 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 defendant," Downing said.

Wednesday's sentencing comes in a week of activity for the investigation. Mueller's prosecutors on Tuesday night updated a judge on the status of cooperation provided by one defendant, former national security adviser Michael Flynn, and are expected to do the same later in the week for another.

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