The witch hunt sure keeps turning up a lot of witchery. This Wednesday, shortly after he faced a second sentencing hearing for federal charges stemming from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort faced a full 16 state felony charges from New York state authorities. If convicted of the most serious charges in the mix, he could face up to 25 years in New York state prison.
That would be in addition to the combined sentence of seven and a half years he’s facing for charges covering a wide range of financial fraud and conspiracy. New York’s new scrutiny of Manafort stems from activity related to some but not all of what underlined those federal charges. They allege that he falsified business records in order to garner millions of dollars in loans, culminating in charges including mortgage fraud, conspiracy, and falsifying business records.
Manhattan federal prosecutors originally paused their inquiry into Manafort’s fraud in order to allow for Mueller’s investigation to run its course. A grand jury voted to approve their new charges against Manafort last week.
Meanwhile, the special counsel has now gone through sentencing hearings for both of his cases against Manafort, which federal Judge Amy Berman Jackson asserted during the disgraced operative’s second sentencing this Wednesday did not stem from purely political motivation. Manafort’s team had insisted that he would not have been charged if he hadn’t been associated with the Trump team and that in other cases stemming from Mueller’s probe, defendants had faced shorter sentences because the presiding judges “recognized they weren’t about Mueller’s core mandate.” Of that latter argument, Jackson asserted that “it’s hard to understand why an attorney would write that.”
The New York Times could not immediately reach a Manafort lawyer for any comment on his new case. They noted that the defendant’s team would likely seek to argue the charges put their client in inappropriate double jeopardy since they cover some of the same activity he was found guilty of in a federal court in Virginia. Prosecutors serving in the office of Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance have “expressed confidence that they will prevail” in that argument, according to sources speaking to The Times.
If he’s convicted, he would be completely out of the reach of a presidential pardon, since that only can cover federal crimes. Although President Donald Trump has not explicitly stated he will pardon Manafort, he has repeatedly spoken highly of both Manafort and his pardon power.
Manafort is among a number of current and former Trump associates to face jail time as part of the Mueller probe. Former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to charges including lying to Congress as part of the Mueller probe, which he’s facing three years in prison for along with crimes including an illegal hush money scheme he participated in targeting women with whom the president had affairs.
Former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn is still facing an upcoming sentencing for lying to authorities, and Mueller’s office shared this week that the cooperation he was offering while that sentencing was delayed is now complete.
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