Monday 22 April 2019

All Manafort's lies have done is cause even more disquiet

Unapologetic: Prosecutors say Paul Manafort lied to them. Photo: Reuters
Unapologetic: Prosecutors say Paul Manafort lied to them. Photo: Reuters

Aaron Blake

Ever since special counsel Robert Mueller's team said Paul Manafort lied to prosecutors after cutting a deal, the question has been: why? Why jeopardise your co-operation agreement? What could make you risk more years in prison?

It became even more curious when we learned that Manafort's legal team continued briefing US President Donald Trump's team the whole time, even as Manafort might have been sharing derogatory information about Mr Trump - a move that clearly irked Mr Mueller's team.

On Thursday, it got even more strange.

At the former Trump campaign chairman's sentencing hearing, prosecutors say Manafort not only lied to them, but that he provided nothing of substantial use. Much of his time spent meeting with them was, in fact, because he had lied.

"Manafort did not provide valuable information to the special counsel that wasn't already known," Mueller team prosecutor Greg Andres said.

Manafort was spared a harsh prison sentence. Judge TS Ellis sentenced him to 47 months in prison, well shy of the 19-24 years that prosecutors had sought for his tax and bank-fraud convictions. He could still face more jail time when the federal judge in Washington, who ruled that he had lied to prosecutors, sentences him in a separate case next week.

The 47-month sentence, though, was delivered because Judge Ellis deemed the sentencing guidelines to be too harsh, not necessarily because Manafort was a sympathetic figure. In fact, in a brief statement to the court before sentencing, Manafort did not apologise for his crimes.

"Ashamed would be a gross understatement," he said.

Manafort lied to prosecutors and never really gave them anything. He entered into a co-operation agreement and then failed to co-operate in any useful way.

We don't know most of what he said in those sessions, but we do know that he lied about a few important topics, including one involving an issue at "the heart" of Mr Mueller's probe. After the sentencing, there are more questions than ever before. (© 2019, The Washington Post)

Irish Independent

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