WASHINGTON – Russia special counsel Robert Mueller asked a federal judge on Friday to send former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort to prison for between 20 and 24 years for his conviction on multiple financial fraud charges.
Prosecutors also urged a federal judge in Virginia to move forward with the sentencing, which could amount to a life term for the 69-year-old Manafort who less than three years ago presided over President Donald Trump’s nomination at the 2016 Republican National Convention.
“Manafort acted for more than a decade as if he were above the law, and deprived the federal government and various financial institutions of millions of dollars,” prosecutors wrote in a court filing Friday night, adding that they agreed with a pre-sentence report filed by federal probation authorities. “The sentence here should reflect the seriousness of these crimes, and serve to both deter Manafort and others from engaging in such conduct.”
Prosecutors also indicated that Manafort should be held liable for restitution and forfeited properties totaling up to nearly $30 million.
Manafort’s sentencing had been on hold while prosecutors and his lawyers argued over whether he violated an agreement to assist in the continuing investigation into the Kremlin’s interference in the 2016 election. Earlier this week, a federal judge in Washington concluded that Manafort had lied repeatedly to prosecutors, and upended his plea agreement in a related case there.
Manafort could have been eligible for a lesser sentence had he fulfilled his obligation to assist investigators.
Despite his convictions, Trump has lauded Manafort for his refusal “to break.” The president, however, has not indicated whether he would issue a pardon for his one-time campaign chief. One of Mueller’s prosecutors, Andrew Weissmann, told a judge this month that one of the reasons Manafort might have lied after promising to cooperate was to “augment his chances for a pardon.”
In the Friday night court filing, prosecutors asserted that Manafort chose his course of conduct to “maintain his extravagant lifestyle, at the expense of various financial institutions.”
“Manafort chose to do this for no other reason than greed, evidencing his belief that the law does not apply to him,” the court documents stated.
“Manafort’s age does not eliminate the risk of recidivism he poses—particularly given that his pattern of criminal activity has occurred over more than a decade,” prosecutors said. “Manafort’s misconduct continued as recently as October 2018 when he repeatedly and intentionally lied to the government during proffer sessions and the grand jury” after entering into the plea agreement with the government.
Manafort was convicted in August on eight counts of financial fraud following a three-week trial in Alexandria, Virginia. The case was primarily focused on Manafort’s extensive consulting work in Ukraine on behalf of its former pro-Russian regime.
A month later, Manafort pleaded guilty to two felony conspiracy charges in a related case as part of his cooperation agreement.
Mueller sought to void that plea deal in November after prosecutors alleged that Manafort had misled them about his interactions with Russian business associate Konstantin Kilimnik, his contacts with Trump’s administration and other subjects. Manafort’s lawyers argued that his misstatements were unintentional, but U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson largely disagreed.
She ruled that Manafort had lied to prosecutors and the FBI about his interactions with Kilimnik, who prosecutors have said is tied to Russian intelligence. Among the exchanges, prosecutors allege he lied about was having provided polling data to Kilimnik.