A jury past year convicted Manafort on eight counts, concluding that he hid from the IRS millions of dollars he earned from his work in Ukraine.
The jury was hung on 10 of the 18 counts brought by Mueller. For decades, he headlined the glitzy, big-money lobbying game in Washington and raked in tens of millions of dollars along the way.
"Manafort suggests, for example, that but for the appointment of the special counsel's office, he would not have been charged in connection with hiding more than $55 million overseas, failing to pay more than $6 million in taxes and defrauding three financial institutions of more than $25 million dollars", Mueller added.
Before Judge T.S. Ellis III imposed the sentence, Manafort told him that "saying I feel humiliated and ashamed would be a gross understatement". The case revolved around Manafort's overseas work for oligarchs backing pro-Russia politicians in Ukraine and his efforts to keep that money from the USA government. They do not directly address Russia's interference in the 2016 US presidential election.
The special counsel is seeking a sentence that "reflects the seriousness of these crimes", which prosecutors characterized as "longstanding and bold", according to court documents filed last month. "And while some of these offenses are commonly prosecuted, there was nothing ordinary about the millions of dollars involved in the defendant's crimes, the duration of his criminal conduct, or the sophistication of his schemes".
Manafort's "misconduct," prosecutors wrote, involved more than $16 million in unreported income (resulting in excess of $6 million in federal taxes owed), upward of $55 million stashed in hidden foreign bank accounts and north of $25 million secured from financial institutions "through lies resulting in a fraud loss of more than $6 million".
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"Manafort did not commit these crimes out of necessity or hardship", Mueller's office said.
The prosecution's star witness, Rick Gates - Manafort's former business partner who struck a plea deal to cooperate with the government - testified during the trial that he and Manafort committed bank and tax fraud together.
Ahead of Thursday's sentencing hearing, Manafort's lawyers asked the judge to give their client less prison time, arguing that the court's 19- to 24-year guideline was "clearly disproportionate to the offense conduct for which Mr. Manafort was convicted". Manafort has been in custody since his bail was revoked in June 2018 and still faces separate sentencing in yet another case in D.C. next week.
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"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 attorneys said.
Defense attorneys for Manafort have suggested that Mueller's team had improperly ensnared their client in its probe, as the case did not have anything to do with Russia's interference in the 2016 election.
He was the first former Trump aide to be arrested in the special counsel investigation, in October 2017. Ellis dismissed efforts by Manafort's defense team to justify a lesser sentence.
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"Here, a court has already found Manafort lied to the government and the grand jury", Mueller said.