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WHAT. IS. PAUL. MANAFORT. HIDING?

Before Manafort pleaded guilty and signed up as a cooperating witness who didn't actually cooperate, we wrote this:

We have always kind of figured that Paul Manafort is the one who knows the whole Trump-Russia conspiracy story. He was the first big fish indicted, and they hit him for A LOT. Also note that just about all the other prosecutions that have come from the Mueller investigation so far have been farmed out by Mueller to different jurisdictions. Manafort, on the other hand, Mueller has kept squarely in his office. There has to be a reason for that.

Perhaps it's because, as this Josh Marshall podcast suggests, Paul Manafort, a foreign agent who worked for Oleg Deripaska, AKA Putin's favorite oligarch, and who got sideways financially with Deripaska, was literally sent into the Trump campaign by the Kremlin to do its dirty work. Perhaps the Steele Dossier is right when it suggests that the entire Trump-Russia election-stealing conspiracy was run by Manafort on the Trump side, and that others like (perhaps!) Michael Cohen only had to take over when Manafort's shit started to stink and the news media started reporting on his weird-ass Russian connections in the summer of 2016.

If it's possible, we are beginning to suspect it may be even worse than that.

On Friday, special counsel Robert Mueller issued his sentencing recommendations for Manafort, after DC district court Judge Amy Berman Jackson ruled conclusively that the shady motherfucker very intentionally lied and blew up his cooperating agreement. Because Manafort defaulted, Mueller is no longer bound to recommend that Manafort's sentence be reduced, and is free to throw the book right at Manafort's face. HARD.

And that is what Mueller did! To be clear, the sentencing memo is harsh.


The specific recommendation is for 235 to 293 months (19 and a half to 24 and a half years), plus TENS AND TWENTIES of millions of dollars of fines and restitution. It makes clear that Manafort was the ringleader from whence all the crimes sprang, that he 100 percent believes he is above the law, that he commits 50 crimes before breakfast every day, and that they're worried if he gets out of jail too quick, he'll just commit more crimes. Weird how they'd think that, considering how they detail how he committed crimes starting in 2005 and didn't stop until 2018, at which point he was UNDER ALL THESE INDICTMENTS.

Worse, the government lists NO MITIGATING FACTORS, as in, the government can't identify one single solitary thing to suggest that maybe if X or Y had been different, Manafort wouldn't have committed so many crimes. Indeed, they say there are aggravating factors and they recommend sentence enhancements. And remember, this is just about all his financial crimes, for the cases that were handled in the Eastern District of Virginia (EDVA) by that cantankerous funny judge, where the jury almost convicted Manafort on all counts, except for there was ONE IDIOT on the jury who just couldn't get there on a few of the charges.

Manafort did not commit these crimes out of necessity or hardship. He was well educated, professionally successful, and financially well off. He nonetheless cheated the United States Treasury and the public out of more than $6 million in taxes at a time when he had substantial resources. Manafort committed bank fraud to supplement his liquidity because his lavish spending exhausted his substantial cash resources when his overseas income dwindled.

Ouch.

Going out on a limb here, but we don't think Robert Mueller likes this fella so much.

Of course, Manafort is still subject to be sentenced for the crimes he pleaded guilty to in DC, and if you put it all together, and do some back of the napkin math, it's impossible to escape the conclusion that Manafort, who turns 70 in April, will probably get out of jail when he leaves this mortal coil and, having met and been summarily rejected by his Maker, goes straight to hell. (By the by, we've heard on Twitter from people who've been in the courtroom that Manafort looks like impending death right now. Can you imagine how shitty Roger Stone is going to look after he's spent a few months in the pokey? Donald Trump Jr. will look the same as he does right now, because his face is already rock bottom.)

Of course, Manafort's lawyers will come back with their own filing that says "Actually, Paul Manafort helps old ladies cross the street uphill both ways in the snow so we determine that the crimes he's been convicted of and pleaded guilty to SO FAR probably maybe warrant a 50 dollar fine?" We don't get the feeling the judge is going to lean in that direction though.

What is the secret that is worth all this for Paul Manafort? Is it that he was at the center of a massive multi-national conspiracy to subvert and steal American democracy and give it to Vladimir Putin and his handpicked orange fuckface moron asset? Because if it's that, spoiler alert, but MOST OF AMERICA ALREADY KINDA KNOWS. We're just waiting for the dirty details to be confirmed, so Netflix can finally turn it into a fucking TV dram-edy and we can write the "WHAT THE FUCK JUST HAPPENED" book we've been planning to write.

We know for a fact that some of the major lies Manafort told investigators and the grand jury had to do with his meetings during the campaign and after with his old business associate Konstantin Kiliminik, who has known ties to Russian intelligence, which tends to mean HE'S A FUCKING RUSSIAN SPY. We know Manafort was passing some sort of Trump campaign internal polling data -- and probably more -- to Kiliminik, to give it to these two Ukrainian oligarchs and God knows who else. We know Kiliminik at that time was acting as an intermediary between Manafort and Manafort's old boss, Putin's favorite oligarch, Oleg Deripaska. We know Manafort and Kilimnik were discussing "peace plans" for Ukraine, which among Russian agents is always code for lifting sanctions on Russia, which appears to be the half of the quid pro quo Russia wanted for ratfucking the election for Trump. And we also know that according to Mueller prosecutor Andrew Weissmann, this entire series of events goes straight to the "heart" of what Robert Mueller set out to investigate when he was appointed, i.e. Russian interference in the 2016 election and who on the Trump campaign and in its orbit helped.

We only hope someday we know the full extent of Paul Manafort's betrayal of his country, and how in the loop Donald Trump was, considering how Manafort ran his fucking campaign for free.

It's possible Manafort is simply terrified (probably accurately) that the Russians will Novichok him to death if he comes clean. Of course, that's not all that different from dying in prison, TBH. Hey, at least he could see his daughters again, unless it's been somehow made clear to him by the Russians that his family will die if he tells the truth. And obviously he's been angling for a pardon from Trump, but even if that comes, it won't be for a while, because pardoned people forfeit their Fifth Amendment rights, so all the Russia investigations would have to be OVER before Trump can do that. And honestly, there's no guarantee that Trump won't have to resign in disgrace long before that happens.

Oh yeah, and there are a lot of things Paul Manafort did that could very well be tried as state crimes, even if a pardon does come. So we're gonna go out on a limb here and say he's fucked, any way he slices it.

We don't have some grand conclusion here beyond WHAT THE FUCK IS IT, PAUL MANAFORT?

Jesus Christ, if these fuckers end up taking their treason to their graves, we are gonna be pissed.

[sentencing filing]

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Evan Hurst

Evan Hurst is the senior editor of Wonkette, which means he is the boss of you, unless you are Rebecca, who is boss of him. His dog Lula is judging you right now.

Follow him on Twitter RIGHT HERE.

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