WASHINGTON — Paul Manafort, President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman, faces almost seven more years in prison in the latest sentence to be imposed in cases brought against him by special counsel Robert Mueller.
U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson on Wednesday added an additional 43 months to the time Manafort is already set to serve in prison. He was sentenced to 47 months in prison last week in a separate case in Virginia. He will get credit for time he has already served.
In Washington, D.C., Manafort was facing charges related to his failure to register for his lobbying work on behalf of the Russian-backed government of Ukraine and its then-leader, Viktor Yanukovych.
In an extended explanation of her sentence, Jackson said Manafort’s crimes were not merely a reporting error, but a conspiracy that included a misinformation campaign to promote Yanukovych, as well as money laundering and tax violations.
“It is hard to overstate the number of lies, the amount of fraud, and the extraordinary amount of money involved,” she said, saying he used the funds to support a lavish lifestyle, which included homes and expensive suits.
Yet even after Manafort was indicted, she said he continued to mislead the court engaged in witness tampering.
“It is all very problematic to me, because court is one of those places where facts still matter,” she said.
Appearing in a wheelchair and in a dark suit, his hair gray, Manafort addressed the court before his sentencing, telling the judge that he had time to reflect as he was in solitary confinement and that “my behavior in the future will be very different. I have already begun to change.”
“Let me be very clear: I have accepted responsibility for these acts that have gotten me here today,” Manafort said, reading from a statement. He said he was “ashamed and embarrassed” for the impact that the case has had on his family and friends.
“I pledge to do all I can to accelerate the healing process,” he said.
He pleaded for compassion from Jackson, noting that he was nearing 70 and serves as his wife’s primary caregiver. He pleaded with her to “please let my wife and I be together.” He asked that she not impose any more time than the 47-month sentence he received in the Virginia case, where he faced tax and mail fraud charges.
But Jackson expressed doubts that Manafort was remorseful.
She also questioned Manafort’s legal team for making a point that the case showed “no collusion,” when that is unrelated to the charges brought against their client. She called it a “non sequitur,” although she made no reference to speculation that such a reference sends a signal to Trump to consider a pardon for Manafort.
Mueller brought the charges against Manafort in the process of investigating whether members of the Trump campaign colluded with Russian government sources.
In the first of the Manafort team’s cases, Manafort was convicted in August by a jury in Virginia federal court of eight of 18 charges having to do with his political consulting business and work he did on behalf of Yanukovych’s Ukrainian government. He was found guilty on five tax fraud charges, two counts of bank fraud, and one charge of hiding foreign bank accounts.
Manafort faced another trial in D.C. federal court in September, but he reached a plea agreement in which he was to cooperate with Mueller’s team. But prosecutors said he breached that plea agreement because he then lied about the nature of his contacts with Konstantin Kilimnik, a business associate suspected of having ties to Russian intelligence. Jackson concluded that Manafort did gave false information, and on Wednesday she again rejected defense attorneys’ efforts to get her to reconsider that decision.
At Wednesday’s hearing, Andrew Weissmann, a member of Mueller’s team, argued that Manafort “engaged in crime again and again,” and dismissed the idea that his failure to register as a foreign agent was more than merely failing to file paperwork.
He said it was part of a conspiracy that included a misinformation campaign to boost the Russian-backed government in Ukraine, as well as money laundering and tax violations. Then, he noted, after Manafort was indicted and charged in 2017, he engaged in witness tampering — “crimes that go to the heart of the American criminal justice system.” After he pled guilty, he said, Manafort then lied to the FBI and a grand jury even though he had agreed to cooperate.
“He has not learned a harsh lesson,” Weissmann said.
Manafort’s team said even though Manafort failed to register as a foreign agent, he communicated with U.S. State Department officials in Kiev in 2013, suggesting that the government at least had some awareness of his work.
His attorney Kevin Downing said the media attention to the case was “out of whack,” and was a “very harsh process for the defendant.” He made a reference to a “political motivation” to the case, but clarified to Jackson that he was not attacking Mueller’s team.
After the sentencing and outside the courthouse, Downing told reporters that the judge “conceded that there was absolutely no evidence of Russian collusion in this case,” as demonstrators shouted “liar” and “that’s not what she said.”