POLITICS

Robert Mueller Says Paul Manafort Could Face Up To 24 Years In Federal Prison

It would amount to a virtual life sentence for the former Trump campaign chairman.

WASHINGTON ― Federal prosecutors working for special counsel Robert Mueller say former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort could spend 19 to 24 years ― the rest of his life, essentially ― in federal prison in connection with his convictions on several counts of fraud in connection with the money he received for his work for Ukrainian oligarchs.

While Mueller’s team “does not take a position as to the specific sentence,” they indicated they agreed that the sentencing range for Manafort’s crimes would be 235 to 293 months.

The federal prosecutors also want Manafort to pay $24 million in restitution and forfeit more than $4 million.

“For a decade, Manafort repeatedly violated the law,” the memo states. “Considering only the crimes charged in this district, they make plain that Manafort chose to engage in a sophisticated scheme to hide millions of dollars from United States authorities. And when his foreign income stream dissipated in 2015, he chose to engage in a series of bank frauds in the United States to maintain his extravagant lifestyle, at the expense of various financial institutions.” 

“Manafort chose to do this for no other reason than greed, evidencing his belief that the law does not apply to him,” the memo states. “Manafort solicited numerous professionals and others to reap his ill-gotten gains. The sentence in this case must take into account the gravity of this conduct, and serve to both specifically deter Manafort and those who would commit a similar series of crimes.”

Manafort ― in jail since June after he allegedly engaged in witness tampering while out on bail ― was found guilty on eight counts related to his use of foreign money back in August after a lengthy trial in a federal court in northern Virginia. He subsequently pleaded guilty to two separate counts in federal court in the District of Columbia as part of a plea deal with the special counsel’s office in which he agreed to cooperate. 

But the federal judge overseeing his case in D.C. ruled this week that Manafort broke that plea deal by lying to investigators multiple times, including about his contacts with associate Konstantin Kilimnik, who has ties to Russian intelligence. Mueller’s team believes that Manafort shared Trump polling data with Kilimnik during the 2016 campaign.

Manafort was present for a June 2016 Manhattan meeting at Trump Tower that was set up after Donald Trump Jr. was told that the Russian government had information on Democratic presidential rival Hillary Clinton that might be useful to the Trump campaign. But Manafort’s cases had largely been viewed as somewhat on the periphery of the Mueller investigation, as the charges mostly focused on his conduct before he joined Trump’s campaign. That view has shifted in recent weeks with the news that Manafort continued to lie about communications with Kilimnik even after he reached a plea deal, which Mueller’s team suggested might affect Manafort’s chance of securing a pardon from Trump.

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