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:
Paul Manafort’s lenient 4-year sentence — far below the recommended 20 years despite extensive felonies and post-conviction obstruction — is a reminder of the blatant inequities in our justice system that we all know about, because they reoccur every week in courts across America
— Ari Melber (@AriMelber) March 8, 2019
FYI in 2018, #JudgeEllis sentenced Frederick Turner, 37, to a mandatory minimum of 40 years in prison for dealing methamphetamine: "I chafe a bit at that, but I follow the law. If I thought it was blatantly immoral, I'd have to resign. It's wrong, but not immoral." #PaulManafort
— Laura Coates (@thelauracoates) March 8, 2019
Let me add: (1) Judge Jackson still gets her say next week and can add as many as ten years (probably won’t add that much but likely will add some) and (2) it is possible for Mueller to appeal this sentence. Appeal is unlikely to succeed but possible.
— Elie Honig (@eliehonig) March 8, 2019
I would expect on Manafort, after this 47 month sentence in VA, that the special counsel will seek, and Judge Amy Berman Jackson will impose, a few years’ consecutive time in the DC case.
— Preet Bharara (@PreetBharara) March 8, 2019