Judge Smacks Down Mueller & His 'Excessive' Treatment of 'Otherwise Blameless' Manafort, Gives Ex-Trump Campaign Chair 38 Months in Jail


If you are of the opinion that Robert Mueller’s special counsel investigation is a fishing expedition, then Paul Manafort was one of two big fish that got caught. He also could be the one spending the longest time in captivity.

According to The Washington Times, prosecutors with the special counsel’s office were looking at putting the former Donald Trump campaign chairman behind bars for 19 to 24 years when he was sentenced Thursday for bank and tax fraud.

Instead, what they ended up getting was 38 more months in prison for Manafort, a fraction of what they asked for.

CNBC reported that U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis of Virginia sentenced Manafort to 47 months behind bars; with credit for time incarcerated, that’s just another 38 months, or a little over three years.

“Manafort, seated in a wheelchair and clad in a green prison jumpsuit during the hearing, spoke of the hardship he has faced as a prime figure in the high-profile Mueller investigation,” CNBC reported.

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“The last two years have been the most difficult for my family and I,” Manafort told the judge. “To say I have been humiliated and ashamed would be a gross understatement.”

Prosecutors, meanwhile, tried to downplay the 50 hours that Manafort spent talking to the special counsel.

“Fifty hours with us was because he lied,” prosecutor Greg Andres told the judge. “He lied, so it took longer to provide the truth to him.”

He added that Manafort “did not provide valuable information to the special counsel that wasn’t already known.”

Do you think that Paul Manafort got the sentence he deserved?

While the judge said he was “surprised” that Manafort didn’t “express regret” during his plea for leniency, he shot down the prosecutors’ request for a long jail term, saying the guidelines were “excessive.”

“It is a just sentence and I have satisfied myself about that,” Ellis said.

“The government cannot sweep away the history of all these previous sentences,” he added, criticizing the Mueller team’s desire for a 19-to-24-year sentence.

Manafort, Ellis said, has “been a good friend to others, a generous person.”

“He has lived an otherwise blameless life,” the judge said.

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Ellis was also pointed when it came to any question about Manafort’s involvement with alleged Russian collusion.

“He 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,” Ellis said in his decision.

Manafort still has a separate hearing next week at which he’s likely to receive more jail time, but the idea that the former Trump campaign chairman is going to be spending a decade or so behind bars is an unlikely one; although he could face up to 10 years at that sentencing, the rebuke from the judge here could bode well for him at that sentencing.

The point is that this is in line with what Manafort was convicted of: bank fraud, tax fraud and failing to declare a foreign bank account. While the charges have to do with his lobbying on behalf of a Russian-backed former Ukrainian president, neither the government nor investigative journalists could definitively link him to any sort of collusion, nor could they nail him on anything that would put him behind bars for two dozen years.

And that’s a problem for the special counsel investigation.

As things wrap up in the Mueller investigation, Manafort and former Trump attorney Michael Cohen appear to be the two big fish. Perhaps there’s an indictment of Donald Trump Jr. around the corner, but most of the convictions that have been obtained were either for process crimes or violations unrelated to the Trump campaign itself.

Most importantly, we’re no closer to landing the big one — evidence of Russian collusion.

Maybe that’s in the final report, but from what we’ve seen so far, I wouldn’t count on it — not with the fact they could secure only a fraction of the sentence they wanted for Manafort.

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C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.
C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).
Morristown, New Jersey
Catholic University of America
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish
Topics of Expertise
American Politics, World Politics, Culture