Paul Manafort Is A Lover, Not A Fighter. He Can Go Home Now, Yes?
Whatever they are paying Judge Amy Berman Jackson, it is not nearly enough to compensate her for having to deal with Roger Stone and Paul Manafort in the same week. That woman is a living saint! Having patiently dispatched with Stone's Instagram post of a crosshairs next to her own head, Her Honor got to spend the weekend wading through an 800-page filing from the Special Counsel on why Paul Manafort should stay in jail until he is 100. (Spoiler Alert: It's because he did alllllll the crimes.)
And now she gets to deal with this ridiculous filing from Manafort's lawyers claiming that their client is a patriotic boy scout, a first-time offender, a self-made family man, exporter of Democracy to to the hottentots, and victim of vengeful prosecutors. Also, too NO COLLUSION!
Grab a shovel, kids, because we are deep in the bullshit now.
Apparently, the word of the day is CHUTZPAH. As in, it takes chutzpah to agree to cooperate and plead to two relatively minor charges in exchange for a reduced sentence, flagrantly breach the cooperation deal, and then plead for mercy because you've only been convicted of two minor charges. But Kevin Downing -- a man who repeatedly insisted on slagging Rick Gates, despite Judge Jackson's repeated warnings to cut that shit out -- has never lacked for chutzpah. Although we suspect he'd call it "moxie" or "nerve" or, more likely, "balls."
Downing begins his sentencing memo by noting that Manafort is no criminal mastermind like Bernie Madoff, no drug cartel, no mafioso. He's just a simple country lobbyist trying to rake in tens of millions of dollars secretly working for a foreign government, and then not pay taxes on it. And, really, is that so wrong?
Mr. Manafort, who over the decades has served four U.S. presidents and has no prior criminal history, is presented to this Court by the government as a hardened criminal who "brazenly" violated the law and deserves no mercy. But this case is not about murder, drug cartels, organized crime, the Madoff Ponzi scheme or the collapse of Enron. Rather, at its core, the charges against the defendant stem from one operable set of facts: Mr. Manafort made a substantial amount of income working as a political consultant in Ukraine, he failed to report to the government the source and total amount of income he made from those activities, and he attempted to conceal his actions from the authorities. He has accepted full responsibility by pleading guilty to this conduct.
He'd done it for decades without getting away with it, and probably would have gotten away with it forever if he hadn't selflessly volunteered his services in service of electing our noble president Donald Trump, peace be upon him and his pardon pen. Okay, yes, there was that little matter of the kickback scheme to pay Manafort through Trump's PAC, which he then lied about to the FBI. And okay there was that spot of witness tampering that landed Manafort in the hoosegow. And the lying about passing Russian spy Konstantin Kilimnik Trump's internal polling data. And discussing how to use his position with the Trump campaign to "get whole" with Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska. Oh, and the repeated lies about discussions of a Ukrainian peace plan favorable to Russia, which we know about from Downing's infamous redaction fail. But, look, the important thing for Judge Jackson and the Honorable Judges Jeanine and Napolitano to remember is NO COLLUSION.
And anyway, who ever even heard of the Foreign Agents Registration Act? Who is really harmed if a fine upstanding fellow like Paul Manafort forgets to fill out a form saying that he's been paid millions of dollars by a foreign government to lobby Congress in ways that are advantageous to a hostile foreign power? It's a victimless crime. You know, like getting a $100 handjob in a Florida strip mall from a trafficked woman imprisoned and forced to have unprotected sex with 1,500 men a year.
Paul Manafort doesn't deserve jail time! Just take it from Bart Mazzarella:
Mr. Manafort's friend from elementary school, Bart Mazzarella, served as an altar boy with Mr. Manafort, played football with him, and recalls that in 9th grade Mr. Manafort became his school's class president due to "his likability and his leadership ability (that was evident even back then)." Mr. Mazzarella describes Mr. Manafort as "a consummate gentleman, always a good sport and someone we all looked up to."
Prosecutors call him a brazen criminal. But did you know Paul Manafort was, like, a really good husband? He even put his own kids to bed twenty-something years ago when his wife was in law school! Plus one time he skipped dinner at the White House to go to a Girl Scout thing. Are you really going to lock up 1988's Father of the Year?
Mr. Manafort has served his country nobly. First, in the Ford Administration, he acted as a White House liaison and met all those interesting energy bigwigs who came in so useful later in his career. Then, under Reagan, Manafort served as a Director in the Overseas Private Investment Corporation. Well, until they told him he'd have to give up all his foreign lobbying contracts or risk violating FARA. He quit so he could keep mopping up those sweet, sweet dictator dollars. But isn't it really the thought that counts?
And even out of government, Manafort was always out to promote truth, justice, and the American way.
During his years outside of government service, Mr. Manafort also worked with world leaders. Mr. Manafort has spent a lifetime promoting American democratic values and assisting emerging democracies to adopt reforms necessary to become a part of Western society. At times, he interacted with politicians and business people in emerging countries to assist in the development of American beliefs of equal justice, human rights and free markets. As an experienced strategist, Mr. Manafort often found ways to build bridges and create economic opportunities between those individuals, their countries and the United States.
Yep, that's why they called it the Torturer's Lobby. Because when Manafort was getting paid by Angola's Jonas Savimbi to lobby for money and arms from the US government so the guerrilla could go on a spree of mass amputations, he was really exporting American values. Likewise, it was true patriotism that compelled Manafort to represent Zaire's Mobutu Sese Seko when he engaged in mass rapes and killings. Right up until his unfortunate confinement, Mr. Manafort was just trying to make Ukraine a better place by turning it over to rapacious oligarchs and dummying up a legal justification for jailing deposed leader Yuliya Tymoshenko. Because he cares.
In short, Paul Manafort is a gentle lover and an altar boy and if NO COLLUSION, YOU MUST ACQUIT. Or at the very least allow him to serve his sentences in DC and Virginia concurrently, rather than consecutively. In the name of Donald Trump, praised be his holy name and God bless his sacred pardon pen.
AMEN. And also, HAHAHAHA FUCK YOU.
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Liz Dye lives in Baltimore with her wonderful husband and a houseful of teenagers. When she isn't being mad about a thing on the internet, she's hiding in plain sight in the carpool line. She's the one wearing yoga pants glaring at her phone.