Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

Despite a federal guideline recommending a sentence of between 19 and 24 years of imprisonment for Paul Manafort, President Donald Trump’s former campaign chair, U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III issued a surprisingly light sentence  Thursday of just under four years, stunning many observers.

Ellis had been consistently hostile to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team throughout the case, even as he repeatedly found that the prosecutors’ legal arguments had merit. He once suggested that Mueller’s team didn’t really care about Manafort’s crimes but only wanted to use him to get to Trump.

Prosecutors had argued in their sentencing memo that there was scant reason to go easy on Manafort. He continued to commit crimes even after being indicted, he lied to investigators during a cooperation agreement, and he showed no remorse for his crimes. The judge himself even noted that when Manafort addressed the court Thursday, he didn’t express any regret for his crimes. Nevertheless, Ellis said that aside from his crimes, Manafort has led an “otherwise blameless life” and that he had a good relationship with others. This is flatly false — Manafort made a career out of supporting brutal dictators.

Many legal experts noted that Ellis’ sentence seemed wildly out of touch with typical practice:

 

Official White House Photo by Andrea Hanks

As I write, it's impossible to guess how this sitcom ends. Boss Trump's comic opera coup attempt has clearly failed, as even Emily Murphy, the hapless head of the General Services Administration was forced to concede. Once Pennsylvania and Michigan certified that Trump had lost both states, she really had no choice. The formal transition to Joe Biden's presidency has begun.

President Putin will be disappointed. Discrediting democracy is Job One for the Russian dictator. Peddling phony claims about voter fraud and election rigging is right out of the Kremlin playbook. It's become unfashionable to say so, but that's the biggest reason Putin invested in Trump to begin with.

Keep reading... Show less