Published: Thu, March 14, 2019
World Media | By Cesar Oliver

Trump ex-campaign chief Manafort indicted for mortgage fraud

Trump ex-campaign chief Manafort indicted for mortgage fraud

Within minutes of the sentencing, prosecutors in NY brought state charges against Manafort - a move that appeared at least partly created to guard against the possibility that President Donald Trump could pardon him.

Separately on Wednesday, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance announced that a grand jury in New York City had returned an indictment of its own against Manafort.

Manafort's sentence stemmed from his guilty plea for lobbying on behalf of a pro-Russian Ukrainian political figure without declaring the work, making it a key part of Mueller's investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 US election. But even if President Trump pardons Manafort at the federal level, he could still face prison time at the state level if a Vance/Manhattan DA prosecution is successful.

The new state charges against Manafort stem from an investigation started by investigators in NY in March 2017, Vance said, roughly seven months before Manafort was indicted on a litany of financial crimes by the special counsel's office.

Mueller is preparing to submit to U.S. Attorney General William Barr a report on his investigation into whether Trump's campaign conspired with Russian Federation and whether Trump has unlawfully sought to obstruct the probe. Jackson added more than three years to that in the related case in Washington, where he faced a maximum of 10 years after pleading guilty to two conspiracy charges.

Paul Manafort will serve a total of about 7 and a half years in the prison, after being sentenced to an additional 3 and a half years for conspiracy.

Manafort is one of the 34 people and three companies charged by Mueller. "He has not learned a harsh lesson", prosecutor Andrew Weissmann told the court, referring to the witness tampering charge.

"That results in a very harsh process for the defendant", Downing said.

"It's not appropriate to say investigators haven't found anything when you lied to the investigators", she said.

"Though I know I am not that person" as publicly depicted, "I still feel shame and embarrassment for what I have caused to my family, to my friends and to all who have been affected by my behavior", Manafort said.

Manafort, 69, apologised to the court for the conspiracy crimes and pleaded for the judge not to add to his prison time, saying the charges mounted against him had "taken everything from me already".

Manafort, who was sentenced in Virginia last week on bank- and tax-fraud charges, apologized for his actions and asked Jackson for leniency so he could care for his wife in their old age.

The possibility of a presidential pardon - a prospect Trump has not ruled out - will likely continue to hang over the Manafort situation, lawyers said.

Manafort had "to make a choice", the prosecutor said. The president can pardon federal crimes but not state offenses. But he reached Mueller's team, and pled guilty to two counts of conspiracy.

Ellis, who has been critical of the special counsel, echoed that sentiment at the hearing on Thursday, later prompting a misleading claim by Trump that the judge had exonerated his campaign. Prosecutors said during his case that Manafort shared campaign polling data with Konstantin Kilimnik, a Manafort business associate identified by prosecutors as having ties to Russian intelligence.

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