The Russian Connection: Manafort Sentenced

Donald Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort sentenced to 47 months in prison on five counts of tax fraud, one count of hiding his foreign bank accounts and two counts of bank fraud, far below the minimum sentencing guidelines of 19 to 24 years.

“I think the sentencing range is excessive,” U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis announced before handing down the sentence. He said a sentence of 19 to 24 years on Manafort would create an “unwarranted disparity” between Manafort and other cases. Ellis called that sentencing range “not at all appropriate.”

Ellis issued the sentence after Manafort broke many months of public silence and addressed the court.

“To say I feel humiliated and ashamed would be a gross understatement,” Manafort told Ellis before the sentence was handed down. Manafort, his black hair gone gray, appeared in court in a green prison jumpsuit and remained seated in a wheelchair.

“I was surprised that I did not hear you express regret for engaging in wrongful conduct,” Ellis told Manafort at one point.

Manafort’s lack of remorse, obviously. did not effect Judge Ellis’s decision to impose an extremely light sentence.

All during the trial the 78 year old judge, appointed by Ronald Reagan, showed out right contempt for the prosecution at one point accusing prosecutors of using the charges to get Manafort to flip on Trump. All through the trial, Judge Ellis interrupted questioning, made disparaging and prejudicial remarks in front of the jury about the prosecution and the Mueller investigation challenging the scope of the probe.

This is not over for Manafort, he could still face trial on the 10 counts that the jury could not decide. A juror later told the media that there was single holdout member of the jury that prevented them from convicting him on all 18 counts, resulting in the partial mistrial.

Next week Manafort will be sentenced by Judge Amy Berman Jackson in the US District Court for District of Columbia, who was not as sympathetic to Manafort as Judge Ellis. She could add 10 years to his time in prison.