Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance unsealed 15 new conspiracy and fraud charges against former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort today, just after Manafort was sentenced to four years in prison on federal charges.
In August, Manafort was found guilty in Alexandria, Va., on five tax fraud charges, one count of hiding foreign bank accounts, and two counts of bank fraud. For that, he received a 3.5-year sentence.
In September, questioning of potential jurors had started in the D.C. Circuit for Manafort’s next trial on seven counts of conspiracy, witness tampering and lobbying violations in respect to working on behalf of a foreign government when he agreed to a deal to avert the second trial. Today he was sentenced to four years.
Manafort, who is nearly 70 years old, told U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson, “Let me be very clear, I accept the responsibility for the acts that caused me to be here today. Furthermore, I want to apologize for all that I did that contribute to these actions and to the effects that they had on both people and institutions.”
Jackson criticized a defense memo stating that special counsel Robert Mueller wasn’t able to prove collusion with Russia. “It’s hard to understand why an attorney would write that,” she said, adding that the defense claim of “no collusion” is “simply a non-sequitur.”
Jackson also noted that “saying ‘I’m sorry I got caught’ is not an inspiring plea for leniency” and Manafort’s defense strategy is “just one more thing that’s inconsistent with the notion of any genuine acceptance of responsibility.”
Manafort attorney Kevin Downing then claimed outside the courtroom that Jackson “conceded that there was absolutely no evidence of any Russian collusion in this case,” to which protesters shouted that Downing was lying.
At the White House today, President Trump was asked to comment on the possibility of a pardon — which would only affect the federal counts against Manafort and not any of the new charges in New York.
“Well, I feel very badly for Paul Manafort, you know, he worked for Ronald Reagan very successfully. It worked for John McCain, he worked for Bob Dole and many others for many years. And I feel badly for him,” Trump said. “I think it’s a very sad situation and — I saw that just a little while ago. And certainly on a human basis, it’s a very sad thing. I feel badly for him.”
New York County District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr., who has been investigating Manafort since 2017, unveiled the indictment alleging that from December 2015 to January 2017 Manafort committed three counts of residential mortgage fraud in the first degree, one count of attempted residential mortgage fraud in the first degree, three counts of conspiracy in the fourth degree, eight counts of falsifying business records in the first degree, and one count of scheme to defraud in the first degree.
“No one is beyond the law in New York,” said Vance. “Following an investigation commenced by our Office in March 2017, a Manhattan grand jury has charged Mr. Manafort with state criminal violations which strike at the heart of New York’s sovereign interests, including the integrity of our residential mortgage market.”
“I thank our prosecutors for their meticulous investigation, which has yielded serious criminal charges for which the defendant has not been held accountable,” he added.