Tags: Russia Probe | US | Trump | Russia Probe | Manafort

Mueller Tells Judge That Manafort 'Brazenly' Broke the Law

Mueller Tells Judge That Manafort 'Brazenly' Broke the Law
Paul Manafort (AFP/Getty Images)

By    |   Saturday, 23 February 2019 02:30 PM

Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team told a U.S. judge on Saturday that President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort "repeatedly and brazenly" broke the law, and argued he did not deserve leniency at sentencing.

The recommendation from Mueller, who is investigating Russia's role in the 2016 U.S. election and whether Trump's campaign conspired with Moscow, increases the likelihood that Manafort will spend the rest of his life behind bars.

Manafort pleaded guilty in a federal court in Washington last September to conspiracy against the United States -- a charge that includes a range of conduct from money laundering to unregistered lobbying -- and conspiracy to obstruct justice for his attempts to tamper with witnesses in his case.

He is due to be sentenced on March 13.

While Mueller did not recommend a specific sentence he portrayed Manafort as a "hardened" criminal who was at risk of repeating criminal behavior once he is released from prison.

"For over a decade, Manafort repeatedly and brazenly violated the law," Mueller's office said in a sentencing memorandum released by the court on Saturday.

"His criminal actions were bold, some of which were committed while under a spotlight due to his work as the campaign chairman and, later, while he was out on bail from this Court."

Manafort, a veteran Republican political consultant, who earned millions of dollars working for pro-Russian politicians in Ukraine, will turn 70 in April and faces a potentially lengthy sentence in a second case in Virginia in which he was convicted last year of financial crimes.

Trump has not ruled out issuing a pardon for Manafort, who worked for the campaign during five pivotal months in the middle of 2016 including during the party's national convention.

But the Manhattan district attorney's office is pursuing criminal charges against Manafort which would be outside of Trump's pardon power for federal crimes.

As part of an earlier plea deal with Mueller, the special counsel dropped five other charges and Manafort agreed to cooperate with prosecutors. But Mueller's team in November accused Manafort of violating the agreement by repeatedly lying to prosecutors on subjects including his interactions with a business partner they have said has ties to Russian intelligence. The judge this month ruled Manafort had breached the deal.

So far, 34 people and three companies have pleaded guilty, been indicted or otherwise been swept up into Mueller's inquiry.

Russia denies trying to interfere in the 2016 presidential election and Trump says his team did not collude with Moscow.

A senior U.S. Justice Department official said on Friday that Mueller will not deliver a long-awaited final report next week, amid expectations that the document was imminent.

Manafort has had a dramatic fall from grace. The two conspiracy counts in his Washington case carry a maximum of 10 years in prison.

In the case in Virginia, Mueller's team told a federal judge on Feb. 15 that federal guidelines called for him to serve up to nearly 25 years in prison after being convicted by a jury of tax evasion, failing to register foreign bank accounts and bank fraud. Manafort is due be sentenced in that case on March 8.

Prosecutors had filed the document under seal on Friday. It was publicly released Saturday after a judge had a chance to review and approve proposed redactions of sensitive information.

Prosecutors also aren't taking a position about whether the prison sentence in the Washington case should run consecutively or concurrently with a separate punishment that Manafort faces in a bank and tax fraud case in Virginia.

NBC News' Ken Dilanian noted that nothing in the document indicated Manafort colluded with Russians to affect the outcome of the presidential election, which was the original task Mueller's office was given to investigate.

"You have to entertain that possibility when you see a document like this describing a lot of criminality, a decade long criminal scheme, but stuff we already knew about. And no reference to any kind of Russia conspiracy," Dilanian said on MSNBC.

"And if anyone would have been involved in a Russia conspiracy in the Trump campaign, you would think it would have been Paul Manafort, the man who had all these Russia connections," Dilanian continued. "But this document suggests that he either has the evidence or that he is keeping it secret for his own reasons. But he has flipped not only Paul Manafort, but Michael Cohen, Mike Flynn. Yet none of them, none, have been charged and no allusion has been made to any kind of conspiracy with Russia. And I think we have to start paying heed to that and preparing ourselves for the possibility that, yes, in fact Robert Mueller does not have that evidence."

Information from Reuters and The Associated Press was used in this report.

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Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team told a U.S. judge on Saturday that President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort "repeatedly and brazenly" broke the law, and argued he did not deserve leniency at sentencing.
US, Trump, Russia Probe, Manafort
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2019-30-23
Saturday, 23 February 2019 02:30 PM
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