Manafort's sentencing hearing underway in DC

Paul Manafort

Paul Manafort

President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort was sentenced to about three and a half more years in prison and was hit with a fresh set of criminal charges in NY on Wednesday (March 13), drawing sympathy from a president who declined to say whether he would issue a pardon. Last week, a federal judge in Virginia sentenced the Republican political consultant to 47 months in prison - an unexpectedly lenient term - for tax and bank fraud in a separate Mueller case.

In addition to its length, the focus will be on what portion of her sentence Jackson decides to run simultaneously with the 47 months imposed by Ellis, and what time, if any, she tacks on to run consecutively.

Her decision brings Manafort's total prison sentence to 7 ½ years.

He apologised to the judge from a wheelchair to "all those negatively affected by my actions", acknowledging that he did not express such regret when sentenced days ago by Ellis for bank and tax fraud.

Nonetheless, her sentence on Wednesday could have been harsher: Manafort was facing the possibility of another ten years in prison as opposed to another 43 months.

"Let me be very clear: I have accepted responsibility for these acts that have gotten me here today", Manafort said, reading from a statement.

Jackson went on to refute the claim that Manafort was a victim who was cynically taken advantage of by politically motivated prosecutors, as has been alleged by many Trump allies.

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Blumenthal further stated that Judge Amy Berman Jackson didn't commit a "miscarriage of justice" like Judge T.S. Ellis did, but Jackson could have been harder on Manafort. This case has taken everything from me. She also ordered him to spend three years on federal supervision, when he is freed from prison and to pay $6 million in restitution. Jackson added more than three years to that in the related case in Washington, where he faced a maximum of 10 years after pleading guilty to two conspiracy charges.

Manafort pleaded guilty in an agreement with Mueller's team to fully cooperate with the Russian Federation probe, but Jackson ruled he violated the terms of the plea deal by lying to investigators. At last week's sentencing, Manafort wore a green prison jumpsuit emblazoned with the words "Alexandria Inmate" on the back.

Jackson sentenced the 69-year-old Manafort on charges of witness tampering and conspiracy, both of which he had pled guilty to.

Jackson said she read all the letters before determining his sentence.

Mueller's team did not make a specific recommendation on Manafort's sentencing in the Washington case.

However, just two months later that plea deal collapsed as investigators said Manafort had repeatedly lied to the government.

"Paul Manafort's upbringing, his education, his means, his opportunities could have led him to be a leading example for this country".

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"He engaged in crime, again and again".

His attempts to cover up his crimes by asking witnesses to lie for him, Weissmann said, "is not reflective of somebody who has learned a harsh lesson. He has served to undermine, not promote, American ideals", Weissmann added.

Manafort's sentence stemmed from his guilty plea for lobbying on behalf of a pro-Russian Ukrainian political figure without declaring the work, making it a key part of Mueller's investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 US election.

"That argument falls flat", Jackson said.

Trump has not ruled out a presidential pardon for Manafort, and after last week's sentencing said "I feel very badly" for his former aide.

Vance Jr., the Manhattan district attorney, said the charges were laid as a result of an investigation that was launched two years ago.

The hearing may offer a window into tantalizing allegations that aren't part of the criminal cases against him but have nonetheless surfaced in recent court filings - that Manafort shared Trump campaign polling data with Konstantin Kilimnik, a business associate the US says has ties to Russian intelligence, and that the two men met secretly during the campaign in an encounter that prosecutors say cuts "to the heart" of their investigation. It was Jackson who, in 2018, revoked Manafort's bail for witness tampering.

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