WASHINGTON, D.C. — Paul Manafort, President Donald Trump’s onetime campaign chairman, asked a Washington federal judge for mercy in punishing him for illegal lobbying, witness tampering and, ultimately, lying to special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigators after promising to cooperate with them.
“Manafort has been punished substantially, including the forfeiture of most of his assets,” attorneys for the former international political strategist told U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson in a court filing on Monday. “In light of his age and health concerns, a significant additional period of incarceration will likely amount to a life sentence for a first time offender.”
Manafort, 69, pleaded guilty to two conspiracy counts before Jackson in September, avoiding a second trial only weeks after being found guilty of eight felonies by a federal jury in Alexandria, Va. He’ll be sentenced there on March 8 and by Jackson five days later. The conspiracy counts carry a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.
The plea for leniency comes three days after Mueller’s office submitted a 25-page brief accompanied by more than 800 pages of charts and exhibits — some heavily redacted — detailing the evidence against Manafort. Most of Manafort’s crimes occurred before he joined Trump’s campaign, but he admitted to financial improprieties while he worked for Trump and witness tampering after he was indicted in October 2017.
“For over a decade, Manafort repeatedly and brazenly violated the law,” Mueller’s prosecutors wrote.
In papers filed with U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III in Alexandria, Mueller’s team endorsed a report that said under the advisory federal sentencing guidelines, Manafort could get 20 to 25 years. Prosecutors didn’t ask Jackson for a specific sentence.
Jackson must decide whether the sentence she imposes will run consecutively or concurrently with whatever punishment is meted out by Ellis.
While Manafort’s cases sprung from Mueller’s mandate to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election and potential Trump campaign collusion, he was indicted for conduct that occurred before the longtime political operative worked on the president’s campaign.
He hasn’t formally been accused of conspiring with Russia to meddle in the election, although Mueller claims that during the campaign Manafort passed internal polling data to Konstantin Kilimnik, a translator who prosecutors said was connected with Russia’s intelligence services.
The Alexandria jury convicted Manafort of failing to report to U.S. authorities millions of dollars in income he received consulting for Ukraine’s pro-Russia Party of Regions and its former president Viktor Yanukovych, failure to declare foreign bank accounts, and defrauding banks when his cash flow dried up after Yanukovych was driven from power.
As part of his guilty plea, Manafort admitted to conspiring against the U.S. by laundering money, cheating the U.S. out of taxes, failing to file foreign bank account reports, violating the Foreign Agents Registration Act, and lying to the Justice Department. In the other count, he admitted that he conspired to obstruct justice by tampering with witnesses.