Manafort Judge LOCKS HER UP!
Justice has been done, at least little bit more than it was last week in the Eastern District of Virginia (EDVA), where Judge T.S. Ellis gave Paul Manafort a slap on the wrist and a visit from the tickle monster as a sentence for an eight-count jury conviction -- five counts of tax fraud, one count of failing to report a foreign bank account on an IRS form, and two charges of bank fraud. On top of that, Manafort willfully blew up his plea agreement, by constantly lying to prosecutors and the grand jury, and also provided the Robert Mueller investigation pretty much zero useful information.
Today in front of DC Judge Amy Berman Jackson, things were a bit different! Berman Jackson sentenced Manafort to 73 months (six years and a month) on two counts, with credit for time served. For the first count, conspiracy against the United States, Manafort received 60 months, 30 months of which will run concurrently with the dumb sentence he got in EDVA. For the second count, witness tampering, Manafort got an additional 13 months.
It wasn't the harshest sentence Berman Jackson could have given, but rather a fair sentence that took into account all the facts and guidelines.
So ... an extra 43 months, minus the nine months he's been in jail ... carry the two ... we weren't told we had to do math ...
LOCK HER UP! LOCK HER UP! LOCK HER UP!
In issuing her ruling, Berman Jackson noted that this case was not about Russian collusion, just like Ellis did in Virginia, so we are sure Donald Trump will intentionally misquote her later and say she ruled that NO COLLUSION. She also said this wasn't a ruling on the virtues or lack thereof of the Robert Mueller investigation, or whether Paul Manafort totally sucks at being a human being. (NARRATOR: He does.)
But oh DAMN, she was not impressed with Manafort's crimes! She said it would be "hard to overstate the number of lies and the amount of fraud and the extraordinary amount of money involved," and was not amused by suggestions that Manafort was only prosecuted because of WITCH HUNT, noting that he was under investigation before that. She even said in her ruling that arguments like that are obviously "intended for another audience." An orange audience.
She was indeed quite unimpressed with Manafort's lawyers' loud refrains of NO COLLUSION! Remember how Manafort attorney Kevin Downing came out of the EDVA last week and instead of thanking the judge for his very nice sentence, he just yelled "NO COLLUSION" in the general direction of the White House? Yeah ... Amy Berman Jackson has thoughts about that!
She doesn't think Manafort is sorry, she doesn't think he's changed, he obviously doesn't think the rules apply to him, she's not overly concerned about his whining about his gout, she's pissed they constantly lied and said Manafort was in "solitary confinement," and by the powers vested in her by the United States government, she rules that he is just absolutely full of shit, like OMG WTF LOL.
All this despite how Paul Manafort totally remembered to pretend he was sorry today!
We had a feeling things might not go well today for Manafort in Judge Berman Jackson's courtroom. She is the judge who ruled that Manafort very intentionally lied and broke his cooperation agreement with the special counsel's office. This is also the judge who threw Manafort's ass in jail during the lead-up to his trial, because he simply could not stop committing crimes while wearing his ankle bracelet. (Manafort's lawyers filed a motion asking Berman Jackson to maybe change her mind about whether or not Manafort intentionally lied to prosecutors. She told them to eat it.)
During today's hearing Berman Jackson reassured the courtroom that she was not sentencing Manafort in any way in response to the fact that Judge Ellis had let him off in the Eastern District of Virginia with a slap on the wrist and a free blowjob last week. She is a professional, and it is not her job to mete out sentences based on how GRRRRRR all freedom-loving Americans are about Manafort's shit EDVA sentence.
As BuzzFeed reporter Zoe Tillman tweeted from the scene, an issue for sentencing today was whether the two charges Manafort pleaded guilty to in DC -- the larger charge for conspiracy against the United States, which encompasses "conspiring to commit money laundering, tax fraud, failing to report foreign bank accounts, violating the Foreign Agents Registration Act, and lying to the Justice Department," and the second charge for his constant witness tampering after he was indicted, counts that are detailed here -- were related to charges he was (lightly) sentenced for in at EDVA. Those counts together could have warranted a maximum combined sentence of 10 years, but Berman Jackson explained that if today's charges were related to the EDVA charges, then the sentences must run concurrently, as opposed to her tacking them on top of his (wussy-ass) sentence from EDVA. As we noted above, in the end, Berman Jackson ruled that 30 months of any sentence on the first count would have to go concurrent, but that the witness tampering sentence would be separate and consecutive.
From what we could tell over here on the blogging couch reading live tweets of the hearing, it was a much different affair from last week. While Judge T.S. Ellis spent his time grandstanding, Berman Jackson spent her time doing math, noting that there's a shit-ton of "algebra" involved in deciding sentences.
Berman Jackson ruled that Manafort should get a leadership enhancement to his sentence, by which we mean his sentence should take into account that he was the leader of a whole conspiracy involving his Russian spy buddy Konstantin Kilimnik, Rick Gates, and many more. On the other hand, she did give him credit for accepting responsibility -- i.e. pleading guilty to his seven gabillion crimes. However, she noted that that is a more limited definition of "accepting responsibility," which is different from the broader issue of how Manafort is an obvious LIARFUCKINGLIAR who hasn't really taken responsibility for shit. Or as Berman Jackson put it, "Acceptance of responsibility for the purposes of the guidelines is not the same as acceptance of responsibility in a more existential and personal sense." OUCH.
Also OUCH? This comment from Mueller prosecutor Andrew Weissmann:
(In issuing her ruling Berman Jackson pissed all over Manafort's claims he was just trying to raise his family too, noting that it was way more for supporting his ostrich jackets and his fancy houses than it was for his family.)
Prosecutors really nailed Manafort on his violations of the Foreign Agents Registration Act -- you know, being a LITERAL ACTUAL ILLEGAL FOREIGN AGENT, saying it was "hard to mention a more righteous prosecution of this act," countering objections that these little foreign agent crimes are just not that big of a deal. They said his witness tampering was pretty fucking gross too, and that his violations in that regard go "to the heart of the American justice system."
Meathead Manafort lawyer Kevin Downing, meanwhile, seemed to argue that because of the Manafort trial, all the foreign agents are registering under FARA in a really good and lawful-like way, so shouldn't we be thanking Paul Manafort for being a foreign agent criminal and showing everybody How Not To Foreign Agent Good? He also insinuated that Manafort is only being charged with crimes for "political reasons," which Amy Berman Jackson just seemed to love, both when Downing said it and when she handed down Manafort's sentence, as we noted above. (We are not sure if Kevin Downing added, "NO COLLUSION!" at that point in the hearing, but we bet he thought it.)
Manafort's counsel also suggested his witness tampering was not SO bad, because usually witness tampering features "bribery and intimidation," and Manafort didn't even threaten to kill or bribe NOBODY!
Manafort spoke again in this hearing, and this time tried to pretend a little better that he was experiencing something like the human emotion of remorse, but pffffffft, nobody buys it. "I am sorry for what I have done," said Manafort, who also said he was sorry he wasn't clear about how sorry he is last week. Got it? He is "sorry." His lawyers told him to say "sorry." He also wept and gnashed teeth about being separated from his wife and family, to which Berman Jackson replied in her ruling:
Manafort also swore to Jesus that he has "begun to change." But, you know, obviously not so much that he wants to fully cooperate and come clean about why he handed polling data to a man linked to Russian intelligence, almost certainly to give it to his former boss Oleg Deripaska, who is at the center of the investigation into Russian ratfucking of the 2016 election for Donald Trump.
So yeah, Paul Manafort, we are sorry for what you have done too. Maybe you can begin to change some more in prison every day while you're doing your prison job. (In other words, don't start a contraband prison cigarette business to pay the gabillions of dollars in restitution -- $24 million in EDVA, $11 million in DC! -- you have been ordered to cough up.)
LOCK HER UP! LOCK HER UP! LOCK HER UP!
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