Sunday 20 October 2019

Former Trump campaign chairman Manafort given extra prison time

It is on top of the prison sentence he received last week.

Paul Manafort was President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman (Jose Luis Magana/AP)
Paul Manafort was President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman (Jose Luis Magana/AP)

By Associated Press Reporter

A federal judge has sentenced former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort to an additional three-and-a-half years of prison as she questioned his remorse and criticised him for his crimes and years of lies.

The sentence is on top of the roughly four-year prison sentence Manafort received last week in a separate criminal 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 before sentencing him on conspiracy charges related to his foreign lobbying work and witness tampering.

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 Paul Manafort

Manafort had asked 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.”

Adding to his legal woes, Manafort was also charged on Wednesday with mortgage fraud, conspiracy and other counts in a new indictment in New York City.

The state charges appear at least partly designed to guard against the possibility that he could be pardoned by US President Donald Trump and freed early on his federal convictions.

The presidential power does not extend to state charges.

The hearing was a milestone moment in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into possible co-ordination 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 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.

Defence 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,” Mr Downing said.

Mr Trump says he feels “very badly” for his former campaign chairman.

The president said: “On a human basis, it’s a very sad thing.”

Mr Trump also insisted he is not currently considering a Manafort pardon, saying: “I have not even given it a thought as of this moment.”

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