This Wednesday, former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort faced his second sentencing hearing as part of what President Donald Trump is still calling a witch hunt. Federal Judge Amy Berman Jackson handed down a sentence of 43 further months in prison for crimes including conspiracy against the United States. That brings his total to seven and a half years.
Government prosecutors had slammed Manafort. Andrew Weisssman asserted during his sentencing hearing:
‘At each juncture Mr. Manafort chose to take a different path. He engaged in crime again and again, he has not learned a harsh lesson. He served to undermine, not promote, American ideals of honesty, transparency, and playing by the rules.’
Jackson herself had plenty of harsh words for Manafort too, disparaging items ranging from the absence of any written remorse ahead of his Wednesday hearing to the claim from his team that Manafort was only charged for political reasons.
As she put it:
‘The defendant’s insistence that none of this should be happening to him… that the prosecution is misguided and excessive and invalid … is just one more thing that is inconsistent with a genuine acceptance of responsibility.’
Under federal guidelines, a genuine acceptance of responsibility can have an effect on he length of a sentence, so that’s no small claim.
Some of Manafort’s complete latest sentence of 73 months will be served concurrent to what he faced last week in Virginia, considering some of the charges cover the same conduct. Completely separately in D.C., Manafort has faced a charge of witness tampering in his own case, for which Jackson previously ordered him into police custody.
He’d previously gotten a sentence of just under four years for financial crimes that a Virginia jury had found him guilty of. That sentence was dramatically lower than federal sentencing guidelines and for many, highlighted the dramatic disparity between rich — mostly white — people’s experiences with the justice system and those of minorities, who continue to be locked up at record rates. Judge T.S. Ellis justified his decision in Manafort’s other case by claiming the disgraced political operative lived an “otherwise blameless life.”
Jackson, notably enough, distinguished herself from Ellis to the point of asserting that it does not “fall to me to pass judgment on Paul Manafort as a human being.”
All of the charges stem from years of secretive lobbying work he completed around the world on behalf of the now defunct, violent, Kremlin-aligned Ukrainian government of Viktor Yanukovych. That work has produced legal scrutiny for others including a law firm and lobbying firms he worked with to prepare a report claiming Yanukovych’s jailing of a political opponent was not in violation of global human rights norms.