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Mueller Court Filing Says Manafort Does Not Deserve Leniency In Sentencing

U.S. President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort (file photo)
U.S. President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort (file photo)

WASHINGTON -- Special Counsel Robert Mueller's office has told a U.S. judge that President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, "repeatedly and brazenly" broke the law and does not deserve any leniency at his sentencing.

The recommendation came from the special counsel’s sentencing memo that was filed on February 22 and made public on February 23 in the second of two cases Manafort faces.

Mueller is investigating Russia's role in the 2016 U.S. presidential election and whether Trump's campaign team conspired with Moscow. Trump rejects any charges of collusion, and the Kremlin denies meddling in the election.

At least 34 people and three entities have pleaded guilty or have been indicted in the Mueller probe and related prosecutions.

The 69-year-old Manafort, who is also facing a long prison sentence for an earlier conviction in Virginia, pleaded guilty in a federal court in Washington last September to conspiracy against the United States.

The charges also include money laundering, unregistered lobbying, and conspiracy to obstruct justice through attempts to tamper with witnesses.

'Bold Criminal Actions'

He can be sentenced up to 10 years in total for those charges. Sentencing is scheduled for March 13.

"For over a decade, Manafort repeatedly and brazenly violated the law," Mueller's team said in the sentencing memo.

"His criminal actions were bold, some of which were committed while under a spotlight due to his work as the campaign chairman and, later, while he was out on bail from this court."

Any sentence imposed in Washington could run concurrently or consecutively to an expected long term for the charges in Virginia. A sentencing date in Virginia has not yet been set.

In a February 15 filing, the special counsel said it agreed with federal sentencing guidelines that would set a prison term of between 235 months and 293 months based on the charges Manafort has been convicted of and to which he has pleaded guilty.

Manafort was a longtime Washington political operative, allied mainly with Republicans.

He headed up the 1996 presidential campaign for U.S. Senator Bob Dole, and he also built a lucrative lobbying career working with foreign clients, including Russian metals tycoon Oleg Deripaska and, later, Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych.

Manafort was instrumental in getting Yanukovych elected in 2010.

According to court records, after Yanukovych was forced to flee in February 2014 amid mass street protests, Manafort’s lucrative Ukraine work dried up.

In March 2016, he joined Donald Trump’s presidential election campaign and was named chairman in June. But Manafort was fired by the campaign three months later, after a secret accounting ledger showing the extent of his work for Ukrainian politicians was revealed.

In October 2017, Manafort and his deputy, Rick Gates, were indicted in Washington federal court by Mueller on foreign agent and conspiracy charges related to their work for Yanukovych and his Ukrainian allies.

In February 2018, new charges of bank and tax fraud were filed against both men by a federal jury in Alexandria, Virginia. Gates later pleaded guilty to the Virginia charges and agreed to testify against Manafort.

In June 2018, Mueller hit Manafort with new charges of obstruction of justice and witness tampering, stemming from his alleged communications, along with Russian-Ukrainian operative and longtime partner, Konstantin Kilimnik, aimed at influencing potential witnesses.

A Virginia federal jury found Manafort guilty on the tax and bank fraud charges in August 2018.

Days before his Washington, D.C., trial was due to begin, in September 2018, Manafort pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate with Mueller’s prosecutors. But Mueller later accused Manafort of violating their plea agreement by lying, something a judge subsequently agreed with.

With reporting by AP, AFP, and Reuters
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