Our collective jaws are on the floor.
Judge T. S. Ellis III of the United States District Court in Alexandria, VA handed down an extraordinarily light sentence to Paul Manafort. The career criminal who glommed on to Donald Trump's campaign as campaign manager for five months was looking at a sentence that was potentially as long as 24 years. Judge Ellis sentenced him to 47 months in prison.
Once Trump secured the nomination, Manafort was instrumental in shifting the Republican Party Platform towards being more friendly to Ukraine, raising eyebrows and interest in what might have prompted that change. He's been a red-hot target of Robert Mueller's investigation since it began, and prosecutors argue, a hardened criminal with financial ties to and interests in foreign governments for over a decade before that. He'd been under investigation even before Mueller was appointed to the position of Special Counsel.
Paul Manafort was convicted on 18 counts of financial fraud, and found guilty on 8 counts in this case in Northern Virginia. He repeatedly lied to investigators, and hid money and bank accounts from them, and misled them about connections and meetings with the Russian intelligence operative, Konstantin Kilimnik.
Stay tuned for Part 2 of the rest of Paul Manafort's life, when Judge Amy Jackson Berman hands down her sentence for the crimes for which he was found guilty in HER courtroom. That happens next week. In those cases, he was found guilty of two charges of conspiracy. Still, this Ellis sentence is grossly underwhelming.
Manafort's milking the pity factor in a wheelchair and with a cane, Judge Ellis said Manafort will get no credit for accepting responsibility for his crimes. The judge said, however, that Manafort "has lived an otherwise blameless life," and "earned the admiration of a number of people." (Is that number zero? Zero is a number, right? Were those people other felons and traitors?) As David Corn said, "Using the word 'blameless' about Manafort is affront to decency." Betsy Woodruff said, "There's no way to interpret this other than Judge Ellis offering a stunning criticism of the Mueller investigation.
What a message to send to rich white men who to feel like selling out their country for an ostrich jacket. What a world.