WASHINGTON (AP) — Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort was sentenced to a total of seven and a half years in prison on federal charges Wednesday, then was hit almost immediately with fresh state charges in New York that could put him outside the president’s power to pardon.
In Washington, U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson brushed aside Manafort’s pleas for leniency and rebuked him for misleading the U.S. government about his lucrative foreign lobbying work and for encouraging witnesses to lie on his behalf.
“It is hard to overstate the number of lies and the amount of fraud and the extraordinary amount of money involved” in the crimes, Jackson told Manafort, 69, who sat stone-faced in a wheelchair he has used because of gout. She added three-and-a-half years on top of the nearly four-year sentence Manafort received last week in a separate case in Virginia, though he’ll get credit for nine months already served.
The sentencing hearing was a milestone in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into possible coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia in the 2016 election campaign. Manafort was among the first people charged in the investigation, and though the allegations did not relate to his work for candidate Donald Trump, his foreign entanglements and business relationship with an associate the U.S. says has ties to Russian intelligence have made him a pivotal figure in the probe.
Prosecutors are updating judges this week on the cooperation provided by other key defendants in the case . Mueller is expected to soon conclude his investigation in a confidential report to the Justice Department.
Minutes after Manafort’s federal sentence was imposed, New York prosecutors unsealed a 16-count indictment accusing him of giving false information on mortgage loan applications. The new case appeared designed at least in part to protect against the possibility that Trump could pardon Manafort, who led the celebrity businessman’s 2016 White House bid for months. The president can pardon federal crimes but not state offenses.
New York’s attorney general’s office had looked into whether it could bring state-level crimes against Manafort but faced a possible roadblock because of the state’s double jeopardy law . That statute goes beyond most other states by preventing state-level charges that mirror federal counts that have been resolved — and also prevents prosecutors from pursuing state-level charges when a person has been pardoned for the same federal crimes.
Still, Manhattan prosecutors, who brought the new indictment, contend their case is safe because mortgage fraud and falsifying business records are state but not federal crimes.
At the White House, Trump said he felt “very badly” for Manafort but hadn’t given any thought to a pardon. “No collusion,” the president added.
On Wednesday, Judge Jackson made clear the case against Manafort had nothing to do with Russian election interference and she scolded Manafort’s lawyers for asserting that their client was charged only because prosecutors couldn’t get him on crimes related to potential collusion with the Trump campaign.
“The no-collusion mantra is simply a non sequitur,” she said, suggesting that those arguments were meant for an audience outside the courtroom — presumably the president.
The judge said conspiracy charges concerning Manafort’s unregistered foreign lobbying work and witness tampering were “not just some failure to comply with some pesky regulations” as his attorneys argued.
Instead, she said they were evidence that Manafort had spent a considerable portion of his career “gaming the system.” He undermined the American political process by concealing from the public and Congress that he was working on behalf of Ukraine— and earning millions of dollars that he never reported to the IRS, she said.
“Court is one of those places where facts still matter,” she said.
Reading from a three-page statement, Manafort asked for mercy and said the criminal charges against him had “taken everything from me already.” He pleaded with the judge not to impose any additional time beyond the sentence he had received last week in a separate case in Virginia.
“I am sorry for what I have done and all the activities that have gotten us here today,” he said in a steady voice. “While I cannot undo the past, I will ensure that the future will be very different.”
Manafort said he was the primary caregiver for his wife and wanted the chance for them to resume their life together.
“She needs me and I need her. I ask you to think of this and our need for each other as you deliberate,” he said. “This case has taken everything from me already — my properties, my cash, my life insurance, my trust accounts for my children and my grandchildren, and more.”
His plea for leniency followed prosecutor Andrew Weissmann’s scathing characterization of crimes that the government said spanned more than a decade and continued even while Manafort was awaiting trial. The prosecutor said Manafort took steps to conceal his foreign lobbying work, laundered millions of dollars to fund a lavish lifestyle and then, while under house arrest, coached other witnesses to lie on his behalf.
“He engaged in crime again and again. He has not learned a harsh lesson. He has served to undermine, not promote American ideals of honesty … and playing by the rules,” Weissmann said.
Defense lawyer Kevin Downing suggested Manafort was being unduly punished because of a “media frenzy” generated by the appointment of a special counsel.
After the hearing, Downing criticized Jackson’s sentencing as he competed with shouting protesters.
“I think the judge showed that she is incredibly hostile toward Mr. Manafort and exhibited a level of callousness that I’ve not seen in a white-collar case in over 15 years of prosecutions,” Downing said.
Read the newly unsealed indictment against Paul Manafort in the State of New York below:
Judge Orders Parts of Mueller Report Un-Redacted In Michael Flynn Case
WASHINGTON (AP) — A federal judge has ordered portions of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report to be un-redacted and made public in the criminal case against former national security adviser Michael Flynn.
U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan issued the limited order Thursday. Portions of the report relating to Flynn are redacted and would be made public under the order.
It is the first time a federal judge has ordered the Justice Department to make public portions of the report the agency had kept secret.
Mueller officially concluded his investigation in March. Attorney General William Barr released a redacted version of Mueller’s report in April.
Flynn is awaiting sentence after admitting to lying to the FBI about his conversations with the Russian ambassador to the United States.
Michael Flynn Assisted In Mueller’s Obstruction, WikiLeaks Investigations
As part of his guilty plea, President Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn assisted special counsel Robert Mueller in his investigations into the Trump campaign’s discussions of WikiLeaks, as well as “potential efforts to interfere or otherwise obstruct” the special counsel, according to a new court filing.
Details: The filing, which states that Flynn is ready for sentencing, claims that the former top Trump aide informed prosecutors of multiple instances in which “either he or his lawyers received communications from persons connected to the Administration or Congress that could have affected both his willingness to cooperate and the completeness of that cooperation.” The filing also states that Flynn “provided a voicemail recording of one such communication.”
- On the WikiLeaks front, Flynn gave prosecutors statements made in 2016 by Trump campaign officials after the release of the Podesta emails in which “the prospect of reaching out to WikiLeaks was discussed.”
Why it matters: This filing suggests Flynn was a far more valuable witness to Mueller than previously known.
(Reporting by Axios)
Read the full court filing:
Senate Intelligence Committee Reaches Deal With Donald Trump Jr. For Interview
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Senate Intelligence Committee has struck a deal with Donald Trump Jr. to appear for a closed-door interview next month, pulling the two sides back, for now, from a confrontation over a subpoena as part of the panel’s Russia investigation.
Under the terms of the deal, according to two people familiar with the agreement, Trump Jr. will talk to the committee in mid-June for up to four hours. The people spoke on condition of anonymity Tuesday to discuss the confidential terms.
The deal comes after the panel subpoenaed President Donald Trump’s eldest son to discuss answers he gave the panel’s staff in a 2017 interview. Trump Jr. had backed out of interviews twice, prompting the subpoena, according to people familiar with Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr’s remarks to a GOP luncheon last week. Those people spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss Burr’s remarks in the private senators’ meeting.
The deadline for Trump Jr. to respond was Monday, according to one of the people familiar with the terms, and he expected to be held in contempt for declining to be interviewed. But the committee reached out Monday evening and the deal was struck.
A spokeswoman for Burr declined to comment. The North Carolina Republican has weathered fierce criticism for the subpoena from the president and his GOP colleagues.
Trump said on Tuesday said he believed that his son was being treated poorly.
“It’s really a tough situation because my son spent, I guess, over 20 hours testifying about something that Mueller said was 100 percent OK and now they want him to testify again,” Trump told reporters at the White House before traveling to Louisiana. “I don’t know why. I have no idea why. But it seems very unfair to me.”
It’s the first known subpoena of a member of the president’s immediate family, and some Republicans went as far as to say they thought Trump Jr. shouldn’t comply.
Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., tweeted, “It’s time to move on & start focusing on issues that matter to Americans.” Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, a GOP member of the panel, said he understood Trump Jr.’s frustration. Cornyn’s Texas colleague, Republican Sen. Ted Cruz, said there was “no need” for the subpoena.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said on “Fox News Sunday” that if he were Trump Jr.’s lawyer, “I would tell him, ‘You don’t need to go back into this environment anymore.’”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has defended Burr, telling his colleagues during the private GOP luncheon last week that he trusted the intelligence committee chairman. On Tuesday, McConnell told reporters that “none of us tell Chairman Burr how to run his committee.”
Still, McConnell made it clear that he is eager to be finished with the probe, which has now gone on for more than two years.
Burr has “indicated publicly he believes they will find no collusion” with Russia, McConnell said. “We’re hoping we will get a report on that subject sometime soon.”
It’s uncertain when the panel will issue a final report. Burr told The Associated Press earlier this month that he hopes to be finished with the investigation by the end of the year.
The subpoena has highlighted a delicate bind facing Burr, a third-term senator who has said he is not running for reelection in 2022. He has been adamant that the panel’s Russia probe be bipartisan and fair and has worked closely with the panel’s top Democrat, Virginia Sen. Mark Warner.
Burr’s committee had renewed interest in talking to Trump Jr. after Trump’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen, told a House committee in February that he had briefed Trump Jr. approximately 10 times about a plan to build a Trump Tower in Moscow before the presidential election. Trump Jr. told the Senate Judiciary Committee in a separate interview in 2017 he was only “peripherally aware” of the proposal.
The panel is also interested in talking to the president’s eldest son about other topics, including a campaign meeting in Trump Tower with a Russian lawyer.
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