Based on sentencing guidelines, Paul Manafort was facing 19 to 24 years in prison today, but District Judge T.S. Ellis gave him just 47 months, plus 3 years of supervised release. From CNN:
“I’m convinced that’s a just sentence for that conduct,” Ellis said as he delivered the sentence.
Even though Ellis gave Manafort a more lenient sentence than the court’s probation office had recommended, he told Manafort he was disappointed that Manafort did not express remorse.
“I was surprised I did not hear you express regret for engaging in criminal conduct,” Ellis said. “I hope you will reflect on that.”
Before Ellis delivered his sentence, he said, “Life is making choices, Mr. Manafort, and living with the choices you make.”
Manafort won’t even serve 47 months because he gets time served for the 9 months he has already been in jail. So he’s facing just over three years in a case that easily could have been a defacto life sentence (he’s 69 years old). However, Manafort is not out of the woods. Today’s sentencing was for 18 counts in which he pleaded not guilty. Next week he will face sentencing in a separate case in which he pleaded guilty. From Fox News:
After his conviction in Virginia, Manafort pleaded guilty in Washington to foreign lobbying violations and witness tampering as part of a plea deal with prosecutors…
His hopes for a reduced sentence in the Washington case may be in jeopardy after a federal judge recently found that he lied to Mueller’s team in response to some, but not all, of their inquiries. The ruling voids his plea deal and exposes Manafort, at a minimum, to a harsher sentence.
So maybe the sentencing is going to be a bit harsher in the second case where he faces an additional 10 years (if the sentences are served consecutively).
I would expect on Manafort, after this 47 month sentence in VA, that the special counsel will seek, and Judge Amy Berman Jackson will impose, a few years’ consecutive time in the DC case.
— Preet Bharara (@PreetBharara) March 8, 2019
Some on the left are outraged over the 47-month result. From MSNBC:
Paul Manafort’s lenient 4-year sentence — far below the recommended 20 years despite extensive felonies and post-conviction obstruction — is a reminder of the blatant inequities in our justice system that we all know about, because they reoccur every week in courts across America
— Ari Melber (@AriMelber) March 8, 2019
I guessed manafort would get six years. He got four. There is something terribly wrong with our justice system which treats the rich and powerful and corrupt more leniently than poor defendents who do far less.
— Matthew Dowd (@matthewjdowd) March 8, 2019
— NBC News (@NBCNews) March 8, 2019
The absurdly low sentence Manafort received highlights a feature of federal sentencing that many federal prosecutors and criminal defense attorneys know well—the sentence a defendant receives depends a lot on which judge the case is assigned to.
— Renato Mariotti (@renato_mariotti) March 8, 2019
On and on:
There are migrant children who will live in cages longer than #Manafort will serve in prison.
America under the GOP.
— Peter Daou (@peterdaou) March 8, 2019
Manafort’s 47-month sentence in ED Va is outrageously lenient. Judge Ellis has inexcusably perverted justice and the guidelines. His pretrial comments were a dead giveaway. The DC sentence next week had better be consecutive.
— Laurence Tribe (@tribelaw) March 8, 2019
After the sentencing, Manafort’s lawyer came out and made a statement about the case having nothing to do with collusion:
NEW: Paul Manafort’s lawyer addresses reporters after 47-month sentence handed down: “He made clear he accepts responsibility for his conduct.” He added: “There is absolutely no evidence that Paul Manafort was involved with any collusion with any government official from Russia.” pic.twitter.com/9QchHFVVB5
— World News Tonight (@ABCWorldNews) March 8, 2019
Adam Schiff saw that statement was a coded “appeal for a pardon.”
The statement by Paul Manafort’s lawyer after an already lenient sentence — repeating the President’s mantra of no collusion — was no accident. It was a deliberate appeal for a pardon.
One injustice must not follow another.
— Adam Schiff (@RepAdamSchiff) March 8, 2019
Was it an appeal for a pardon or is Schiff just upset his collusion narrative took a hit? CBS is reporting that an anonymous source claims Manafort is still banking on a pardon:
Paul Manafort's bail was revoked after allegedly contacting witnesses; he was also accused of lying to Robert Mueller's investigators after agreeing to cooperate.
A source tells CBS News that Manafort, sentenced to 47 months in prison, is banking on a presidential pardon. pic.twitter.com/bSn3NAKANo
— CBS Evening News (@CBSEveningNews) March 8, 2019
As it stands now, Manafort is getting off pretty light so maybe Trump figures there’s no need for a pardon. But again, there’s more sentencing to come. Will Judge Amy Berman Jackson decide to max out Manafort’s second sentence to make up for the light sentence today? Or does she dial it back a bit in hopes of keeping Trump on the sideline? Sentencing in the second case is scheduled for next Wednesday.