Double Trouble

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Paul Manafort, the former chairman of President Donald Trump’s 2016 election campaign, was sentenced to 73 months in prison in a Washington, D.C. courtroom on Wednesday—his second multi-year sentence in just under a week.

Facing two counts, Manafort will now serve 30 months of a 60 month sentence concurrently with his previous 47 month sentence. He will also serve 13 months for a second count consecutively with the previous sentence. All told, his total prison sentence has essentially doubled; taking the two sentences together, Manafort is set to spend 90 months, or seven and a half years, in prison.


Speaking briefly before his sentence was handed down, Manafort addressed the court, saying “I am sorry for what I have done and for all the activities that have gotten me here today.”

“I can see that I have behaved in ways that did not always support my personal code of values,” he added.


Explaining that her ruling today would not be a “review or revision” of Manafort’s earlier sentence of 47 months behind bars—one which many legal observers criticized as being absurdly lenient, given the host of financial crimes for which he has been convicted—U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson gave Manafort credit for pleading guilty to obstruction of justice and conspiracy against the US, after he’d been found guilty of bank and tax fraud, and illegal lobbying work this summer.

“This defendant is not public enemy number one,” Berman Jackson told the court before declaring her decision. “But he’s not a victim, either.”

“There is no good explanation that would warrant the leniency requested,” she added, before launching into a damning critique of Manafort’s long list of crimes.

Arguing for a shorter sentence, Manafort’s team had claimed he used his illegally obtained funds to help cover costs for family and friends—a claim prosecutor Andrew Weissman knocked down, telling the court that “that in other circumstances would be truly admirable, it is less so when it is done with other people’s money.”


Manafort’s attorney, Kevin Downing, also attempted to shade his clients convictions in a decidedly political light, accidentally making the extremely good point that: “But for a short stint as campaign manager in a presidential election, I don’t think we would be here today. I think the court should consider that too.” This is something that is likely true, but it also inadvertently highlights the fact that his extremely crooked client was a crucial animating force in getting the president elected.

Manafort’s sentence marks the end of his long entanglement with Special Counsel Robert Mueller, as part of Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. Mueller is currently in the opening stages of prosecuting longtime Trump confidant and advisor Roger Stone, who is accused of coordinating the release of stolen Democratic National Committee emails with Wikileaks.


On Monday, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders did not explicitly deny speculation that Trump was considering a pardon for his onetime political advisor, telling reporters that the president will decide “when he’s ready.” Prosecutors in New York, meanwhile, have reportedly begun working on a series of new, non-federal indictments against Manafort should he be pardoned. Because these would be state charges, they would be immune from the possibility of a presidential pardon.

In other words, we likely haven’t heard the last of Paul Manafort.

Update, 12:45 p.m. ET: Talk about timing. Just as Judge Berman Jackson was handing down her sentence, Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance announced 16 new indictments against Manafort—this time for conspiracy, falsifying documents, and fraud. Given that these are state charges, should Manafort be convicted, the president would not be able to pardon his former campaign chair.