This week, the supposed “witch hunt” culminated in yet another real, tangible jail sentence. Federal Judge T.S. Ellis sentenced former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort to 47 months in prison for federal financial crimes a jury declared him guilty of last year and which under federal guidelines, could have left him in jail for the rest of his life. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) was among those to slam Ellis’s decision to let Manafort off comparatively easily, considering the magnitude of his criminal conduct. He carried on with a years-long scheme to conceal millions of dollars that he earned from secretive lobbying work for the brutal and now defunct, Kremlin-aligned Ukrainian government of Viktor Yanukovych.
Ocasio-Cortez shared her thoughts:
‘Paul Manafort getting such little jail time for such serious crimes lays out for the world how it’s almost impossible for rich people to go to jail for the same amount of time as someone who is lower income. In our current broken system, “justice” isn’t blind. It’s bought.’
Ellis has previously been accused of bias in his oversight of one of the government’s two cases against Manafort. Early on in pre-trial proceedings, for instance, he angrily suggested that Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team was simply going after the president via their prosecution of Manafort, although he begrudgingly allowed the case to proceed. During the trial, he was repeatedly antagonistic towards government prosecutors, even lashing out at them for having a witness remain in the audience who Ellis himself had previously said could remain. The judge apologized for that outburst, which did not stop the jury from declaring Manafort guilty on numerous counts.
Following that conviction, Manafort pleased guilty to charges in a second case in D.C., and agreed to cooperate with investigators — but prosecutors say that the disgraced operative “never gave meaningful help” and instead lied. They’d been seeking a sentence of between 19 and 25 years, which Ellis said was “excessive” in part because Manafort had lived an “otherwise blameless life” — whatever that means, and for whatever reason it’s remotely relevant to the crimes he committed.
He still awaits sentencing in his second case from D.C. Federal Judge Amy Berman Jackson this coming week.
Check out Twitter’s response to Ocasio-Cortez…
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