Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort faces sentencing — Judge Amy Berman Jackson said that 30 months of the sentence she imposes will overlap with his Virginia sentence of just under four years, but she will issue a separate consecutive sentence on top of that sentence.
Manafort apologized in court, as he faced his sentencing in the District of Columbia on two counts — conspiracy against the United States and conspiracy to obstruct justice on Wednesday.
“I want to say to you now that I am sorry for what I have done,” Manafort said.”While I cannot undo the past, I can assure that the future will be very different.”
His attorney, Kevin Downing, also argued that the media attention had resulted in had resulted a “very harsh process” for his client, different from the treatment another defendant facing the same charges might receive from the public and the press. Jackson prompted him to state that he doesn’t believe prosecutors were motivated by politics.
The prosecution arguing for a tough sentence, that Manafort’s crimes, conducted over a decade and bringing him wealth that he hid in 30 offshore accounts in three countries, showed that he “sought to undermine, not promote, American ideals.”
Each count against him carries a maximum of five years.
In Virginia last week, Manafort was sentenced to 47 months for tax and bank fraud, a significantly shorter sentence than prosecutors had sought.
Manafort pleaded guilty to the two conspiracy counts in the District in September in order to avoid a second trial and was required to cooperate with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. But in November, the government accused Manafort of violating the plea agreement in November by lying to the FBI, a federal grand jury and the special counsel. U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson agreed and ruled that Manafort had voided the deal.
With reporting by Clare Hymes and Steven Portnoy. Grace Segers, Kathryn Watson and Rob Legare contributed to this report.
Follow along with live updates here:
30 months of sentence she issues will overlap with Virginia sentence
Judge Jackson says she agrees with Manafort that the 19-24 year guideline “overstates the seriousness of this offense.”
She said because some of Manafort’s conduct has already been addressed by another court, 30 months of the sentence she’ll issue here will overlap with the sentence Judge Ellis issued last week in Virginia.
But she will issue a “separate consecutive sentence” on top of what Ellis handed down last week.
Jackson criticizes Manafort’s defense
Jackson is now essentially mocking the defense lawyers for repeatedly referencing what she calls the “No Collusion refrain” in their filings. The question of Russian collusion is “unrelated to the matters at hand,” Jackson said.
“The ‘No Collusion’ mantra is simply a non-sequitur,” Jackson added. It’s “just one more thing that’s inconsistent with any genuine acceptance of responsibility.”
“The defendant was not in the SHU!” Jackson said, referring to the acronym for Special Housing Unit, better known as solitary confinement. She blasted the Manafort defense team for making it seem as though Manafort was in solitary confinement.
Jackson: Manafort showed no remorse before sentencing
Jackson said of Manafort’s pre-sentence filings that they stressed the impact of the prosecution on him and his family: “‘Look what they’ve done to me.'”
She saw no sign of remorse prior to his sentencing — it was “completely absent” from the submissions, Jackson said.
Jackson: “No explanation” from Manafort would warrant leniency he has requested
Jackson said that Manafort was neither “public enemy number one” nor is he a “victim,” adding that the case has been marked by a fair amount of “hyperbole” on both sides.
Jackson, speaking to the special counsel’s investigation, said that Russian collusion was “not presented” in this case, and therefore not resolved by it, one way or the other.
She lambasted Manafort for his “lies” and “fraud.”
“It is hard to overstate the number of lies and the amount of fraud and the extraordinary amount of money involved” in Manafort’s crimes, she said.
She said there is “no explanation” from Manafort that would warrant the leniency he has requested.
Jackson said Manafort was “hiding the truth of who he represented from policymakers and the public,” behaving in a way that “undermines our political discourse and infects our policymaking.”
And even now, she said Manafort still isn’t being straight with her. He acted through the proceeding, after his guilty plea, with an “‘I’m just gonna manage this, I’m just gonna spin this’ attitude,” she said.
His “dissembling in this case began with the bond proceedings and it never abated,” she told the court.
Jackson says Manafort had “contempt for” and “believed he had the right to manipulate these proceedings.” She said his lies can’t be ignored because “court is one of those places where facts still matter.”
“He did plead guilty. He did sit for many sessions,” Jackson said. “But the problem is, the defendant’s own conduct makes it impossible to assess” how truthful his testimony was. “There’s no question that this defendant knew better, and he knew exactly what he was doing.”
Manafort: “I am sorry for what I have done”
Speaking from his wheelchair, Manafort reiterated the feeling of shame he has, which he mentioned in court last week, but today he added an explicit apology.
“I want to say to you now that I am sorry for what I have done,” Manafort said. “While I cannot undo the past, I can assure that the future will be very different.”
Manafort continued, “I concede I did not always behave in ways that supported my core values.”
“I say to you in the future that my behavior will be very different. I have already begun to change,” he said. Manafort told the court that the support of friends and family during his case have “had an energizing impact on my life,” and he claimed that he is a “different person from the one who came before you” in the fall of 2017.
Defense: Manafort “truly is sorry” for breaking the law
Defense attorney Kevin Downing argued that “[Manafort] truly is sorry for violating the law.”
Downing claimed that Manafort and his employee Konstantin Kilimnik were in regular communication about their alleged activities in Ukraine inside the U.S. Embassy in Kiev, an argument he offered as a mitigating factor. This portion of the argument referenced sealed portions of the case that were redacted from court filings.
He argued that the media attention on Manafort had resulted a “very harsh process” for his client, different from the treatment another defendant facing the same charges might receive from the public and the press.
“Everybody’s going nuts over this,” Downing lamented. He suggested that there had been a “political motivation” for what he sees as an “out-of-whack” level of attention to the case. Jackson then prompted Downing to say on the record for the court that he doesn’t believe the prosecutors were motivated by politics.
Prosecutor: Manafort sought to undermine American ideals
“Your honor, we’re here today because of crimes that Paul Manafort committed for over a decade,” Weissmann declared. “He hid his wealth in over 30 offshore accounts in three different countries.”
Some of the work he did was on behalf of Russian oligarch Oleg Derpisaka, Weissmann said, adding that Manafort financially supported his friends and family “with other people’s money.”
“Mr. Manafort committed crimes that undermined our political process,” Weissmann said.
Weissman noted that Manafort was familiar with his obligation to register as a foreign agent, but “that law got in the way of Mr. Manafort,” he said. “Secrecy was integral.”
“As we noted to the court,” Weissman added, the Justice Department had audited Manafort’s work, and Manafort was forced to decline a presidential appointment under President Reagan because he had been audited by the Justice Department for his work for overseas clients.
“It is hard to imagine a more righteous prosecution of this act,” Weissmann said.
Weissmann says Manafort’s belated 2017 FARA (Foreign Agent Registration Act) filing was “woefully false and incomplete,” omitting his work for Ukraine and pro-Russian politician Viktor Yanukovych.
“It neither would, could or should be absolution for a criminal prosecution,” Weissman said. He went on to argue that Manafort’s crimes, including witness tampering, “go to the heart of the American criminal justice system.” His decision to tamper with witnesses while under indictment and out on bail suggests “something that is wrong” with his moral compass.
Manafort, Weissman said as he concluded his argument for a tough sentence that Manafort “sought to undermine, not promote, American ideals.”
Defense: Manafort didn’t “back away” from plea deal
“Our view is that he did not back away” from his plea agreement, Manafort defense lawyer Tom Zehnle told Judge Jackson. “Mr. Manafort has come forward — he’s accepted responsibility by pleading guilty,” he added. This argument is relevant to Jackson’s determination of whether Manafort has accepted responsibility for his crimes.
Special counsel prosecutor Andrew Weissmann argued that Manafort had made false statements to the FBI and under oath to the grand jury “repeatedly.” Weismann told Judge Jackson that Manafort “engaged in deceitful conduct, both with the FBI and under oath.”
Jackson said that she can consider conduct beyond what was cited in the offense. “Given his plea and given his sworn admissions” she said she would give him credit for acceptance of responsibility.
–Steven Portnoy and Clare Hymes
Judge Jackson explains the sentencing process
9:40 a.m: Judge Jackson notes the statutory maximum sentence for the two charges Manafort has pleaded guilty to in the District is ten years in total.
She said a “considerable amount of algebra” goes into the calculation of the recommended guidelines for a sentence in this case.
“There are boundaries to what sentence can be imposed,” Judge Jackson explained. She noted that the tax crimes, FBAR (Foreign Bank and Financial Reports), and bank fraud crimes were not tried in the District court and that he had received a concurrent sentence for his offenses in the Eastern District of Virginia.
“What is happening today,” she said “cannot be a review or revision,” of what happened at last week’s sentencing in Virginia.
In count 1, Manafort pleaded guilty to conspiracy against the U.S.
In count 2, Manafort pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice for witness tampering.
There will be “overlapping sentencing for overlapping counts” Jackson said.
–Steven Portnoy and Clare Hymes
Will Jackson credit Manafort for accepting responsibility?
9:35 a.m.: Before issuing her sentence, Judge Jackson said she’ll have to decide whether to credit Manafort for his “acceptance of responsibility.” This process took awhile in Judge T.S. Ellis’s courtroom last week in Virginia.
Jackson told the court she’ll also have to determine whether Manafort was a leader in the conspiracy. Weissman said that Manafort had claimed he was not a leader,
She addressed Manafort’s role in the offense, saying the probation office had in fact designated him as a “organizer or leader of a criminal activity.” But the defense argued that this standard only applies to criminal organization. Jackson said that there are no rules saying that Manafort’s employees must be “solely” involved in a criminal enterprise. She says this comes down to a group, including how many people are involved and who is in charge. Jackson said she doesn’t believe this is a “valid argument,” saying that the number of people involved far exceeds five.
On Manafort’s acceptance of responsibility, Judge Jackson spoke to the breach of plea agreement and said she still finds that Manafort gave false testimony regarding his interactions with Kilimnik.
–Steven Portnoy and Clare Hymes
Judge Jackson takes the bench
9:31 a.m.: Judge Amy Berman Jackson has taken the bench. Court is in session.
Manafort team arrives for hearing
9:28 a.m.: Manafort defense attorney Kevin Downing and his team have taken their seats in the District courthouse.
Before the hearing, prosecutors and defense attorneys mingled. Downing was seen smiling as he spoke with special counsel prosecutor Jeannie Rhee. Manafort is wearing a suit and was been wheeled into the courtroom in a wheelchair at 9:25 a.m.
Will we hear from Manafort in trial?
Potentially. Manafort, who had never addressed the court on his own behalf, did so in Alexandria last week during his sentencing there.
Manafort’s allocution was brief, and even Judge T.S. Ellis noted that the statement lacked remorse, “I don’t have any doubt that what you said was genuine, but I was surprised that I did not hear you express regret for engaging in wrongful conduct.”
The Judge encouraged Manafort to think about that before speaking before the court in D.C.
— Clare Hymes
What kind of sentence will Judge Amy Berman Jackson hand down against Manafort? One thing to watch is whether Jackson will allow Manafort to serve both the Virginia and the District sentences at the same time or whether he will have to serve them consecutively. Judge T.S. Ellis, who presided over the Virginia case, told Manafort’s attorneys it was up to Jackson.
And then, there’s the sentence itself in the D.C. case. Ellis’ sentence of just under five years was 14 years lower than the minimum sentence of 19 years recommended by the sentencing guidelines. Ellis said that Manafort had led an otherwise “blameless life.”
The two conspiracy counts in the District case carry a maximum of five years each.
Some expressed surprise about Judge Ellis’ assessment that Manafort had lived an otherwise blameless life.
“That was a rather remarkable comment I think, to say the least,” CBS legal analyst Rikki Klieman said following the Virginia ruling. “It’s one thing to look at his age, his health, the fact that he did not have any prior record. It is another thing to see someone engage in a life of crime for at least 10 years and call it unblemished.”
— Clare Hymes and Kathryn Watson
Manafort’s violation of plea agreement
Berman Jackson ruled that Manafort breached his plea agreement in February, meaning that the special counsel was released from its promise to support a reduced sentence for Manafort in exchange for his cooperation.
In August 2018, after being found guilty of financial crimes including bank fraud and lying on his tax returns, Manafort pleaded guilty to two additional felonies and agreed to cooperate with the government.
Then, in November, Mueller’s office told the court Manafort had lied to investigators while he was supposed to be cooperating about five aspects of the government’s investigation, most notably about his interactions with Konstantin Kilimnik, a Russian political operative with ties to the Kremlin. Jackson ruled Manafort lied to the government about three of those instances.
But Jackson was unconvinced by the special counsel’s claim that Manafort lied about Kilimnik’s role in the obstruction of justice conspiracy. She also did not find that the government had proven he intentionally lied about his communications with anyone in the Trump administration.
Kilimnik, who has ties to Russian intelligence, was indicted in June. Manafort has admitted he conspired with Kilimnik to obstruct justice.
— Clare Hymes and Rob Legare
Manafort’s Virginia sentencing last week
At his sentencing hearing in Virginia last week, Manafort was sentenced to 47 months in prison, a significantly shorter sentence than prosecutors had sought.
Judge T.S. Ellis said Manafort committed “undeniably serious” crimes and expressed surprise that Manafort did not “express regret for engaging in wrongful conduct.”
“You should have remorse for that,” Ellis said.
Ellis suggested Manafort stole more than $6 million from his fellow tax payers, calling it “theft of money from everyone who pays.”
But Ellis said that Manafort “lived an otherwise blameless life. “Mr. Manafort has engaged in lots of good things,” he said, though he added that that fact “can’t erase his criminal activity.”
Ultimately, Ellis concluded that the guidelines, which called for a sentence of 19.5-24 years, were “excessive.” “It’s far more important, in my view, that this case serve as a beacon to warn others,” Judge Ellis said, just before imposing a sentence of 47 months on Manafort.”