Nearly seven months after he was found guilty for a host of financial crimes, President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort was sentenced to 47 months in prison.
Manafort’s fate marks the longest prison sentence secured to date by Mueller and his team of prosecutors, who are empowered to pursue any crimes they uncover over the course of their Russia investigation. Manafort will face a separate sentencing hearing next week before U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson stemming from related charges.
Wearing a green jumpsuit and confined to a wheelchair, Manafort listened as U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis explained that his sentence was unrelated to the core of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s ongoing investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
“He is not before the court for anything having to do with colluding with the Russian government,” Ellis said at one point.
Trump, meanwhile, has dangled the possibility of a Manafort pardon, saying as recently as this past November that “I wouldn’t take it off the table. Why would I take it off the table?” As a result, prosecutors in Manhattan have reportedly been preparing a series of non-federal indictments for Manafort, for which any guilty verdict would be untouchable by a presidential pardon.
Manafort’s legal team spent the weeks leading up to Thursday’s sentencing by essentially pleading for mercy from the court, arguing that their client has been victimized by a special prosecutor run amok. “The Special Counsel’s attempt to vilify Mr. Manafort as a lifelong and irredeemable felon is beyond the pale and grossly overstates the facts before this Court,” his attorney’s wrote in a memo filed earlier this month.
Mueller’s prosecutors immediately pushed back on Manafort’s woe-is-me argument, writing in a memo of their own that Manafort “blames everyone from the Special Counsel’s Office to his Ukrainian clients for his own criminal choices.”
He’ll have plenty of time to think about those choices over the next 47 months.
Update, 7:30 p.m.:
Manafort’s sentence is much lighter than anticipated—his recommended sentence was 15 years longer. Lawyers on Twitter compared the light sentence to the harsh punishments regular people often receive.
Former federal prosecutors also expressed disappointment.
So why did the judge cut him so much slack? It’s hard to know. But the judge did seem to have some sympathy for Manafort, saying that he “lived an otherwise blameless life,” according to The Guardian. Ok then.
Anyway, here’s a sketch from the courtroom today.