Paul Manafort was sentenced to a total of seven and a half years in prison for felonies uncovered as part of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian election interference.
A federal judge in Washington sentenced him Wednesday to six years for illegal foreign lobbying and witness tampering unrelated to his campaign work for President Donald Trump. He will serve 43 months on top of the 47 months he’s already received. For Manafort, who turns 70 next month and is said to be in poor health, the combined sentence -- well short of the 34 years he could have received -- offers hope of a life after prison. He could still be pardoned by Trump, who has stood by him through his prosecution.
The sentence is the longest so far stemming from Mueller’s investigation of possible American involvement in the Russian conspiracy to interfere in the 2016 election. Manafort’s convictions were related to his secret lobbying campaign on behalf of pro-Kremlin politicians in Ukraine, not his role in the campaign.
The one-time international consultant and adviser to Republican presidents appeared in Washington before US District Judge Amy Berman Jackson, who chastised him for his conduct as an international consultant and for trying to tamper with witnesses.
Manafort “is not Public Enemy No. 1,” the judge said. But she added that it was “hard to overstate” Manafort’s fraud and lies and that “there is no good explanation that would warrant the leniency that he requested.”
She also criticized the defence argument that Manafort wouldn’t have been charged if not for the special counsel’s investigation into unrelated election interference by Russia, pointing to a U.S. investigation that predated the Russia investigation. “The ‘no collusion’ mantra is simply a non sequitur,” she said, adding that “Saying I’m sorry I got caught is not an inspiring plea for leniency.”
Manafort, who used a wheelchair to enter the courtroom, pleaded for leniency, telling the court that he and his family needed one another and saying, “I have already begun to change.”
He also did something he hadn’t done previously, apologizing for his crimes. “I am sorry for what I have done and for all the activities that have gotten us here today,” he said.