Paul Manafort, the former campaign chairman for President Donald Trump who found himself one of the major players at the epicenter of special counsel Robert Mueller's probe, will be sentenced Thursday afternoon at a federal courthouse in Alexandria, Virginia. The case revolved around Manafort's overseas work for oligarchs backing pro-Russia politicians in Ukraine and his efforts to keep that money from the US government.
Ahead of Thursday's sentencing hearing, Manafort's lawyers asked the judge to give their client less prison time, arguing that the court's 19- to 24-year guideline was "clearly disproportionate to the offense conduct for which Mr. Manafort was convicted". Mueller's office, in court filings, said that only Manafort is to blame for his crimes, that he has shown no remorse and that his lies to prosecutors after his guilty plea should be taken into account.
He is still facing additional years in prison from another case: After his conviction in Virginia, Manafort pleaded guilty in Washington to foreign lobbying violations and witness tampering as part of a plea deal with prosecutors.
He then began a prolific lobbying career for pro-Kremlin politicians in Ukraine, especially former president Viktor Yanukovych. He will be sentenced in his case in D.C. next week.
Manafort said he hoped to turn things around "through the power of prayer and God's guiding hand" before asking the judge for compassion.
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The charges Mueller brought against Manafort stem mainly from his consulting work in Ukraine, and don't address directly the probe's focus on collusion between Russian Federation and the Trump campaign.
The two-week trial at the U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Va., featured boxes of evidence and testimony from more than two dozen witnesses, including Manafort's former right-hand man, Rick Gates.
Prosecutors have looked to that second sentencing as a backstop to keep Manafort in prison, in case the judge in Virginia is extremely lenient. Manafort, according to the filing, owes the government millions of dollars in taxes. Those types of interactions were routine for American officials trying to keep abreast of local developments, according to Michael Carpenter, a former National Security Council and State Department official focused on Russian Federation.
Ellis also noted during the hearing that Manafort "is not before the court for any allegations that he, or anyone at his direction, colluded with the Russian government to influence the 2016 election". Prosecutors said he was cash-poor when he lied to banks to obtain loans, even as he worked at no salary for Trump's campaign.
First, they say Manafort has suffered serious health problems since he has been incarcerated, mostly in solitary confinement, at the Alexandria jail where he awaits sentence.
The sentencing capped a stunning downfall for Manafort, a prominent figure in Republican Party circles for decades who also worked as a consultant to such worldwide figures as former Angolan rebel leader Jonas Savimbi, former Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos and Yanukovych. He described his life as "professionally and financially in shambles".