8 Mar 2019

Former Trump election campaign manager Paul Manafort sentenced to 47 months in prison

2:06 pm on 8 March 2019

Donald Trump's disgraced former election campaign manager Paul Manafort has been jailed for 47 months.

Paul Manafort arrives for a hearing at US District Court on June 15, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Brendan SMIALOWSKI / AFP)

Paul Manafort pictured in June last year arriving for a court hearing in Washington DC. Photo: AFP

US President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman was sentenced by a US judge in Virginia for bank and tax fraud uncovered during Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russia's role in the 2016 election.

The veteran Republican political consultant had been convicted of eight charges by a jury in Alexandria last August.

While prosecutors had not recommended a specific sentence, they had cited federal sentencing guidelines that called for 19-1/2 to 24 years in prison. But US District Judge T.S. Elliss said the sentencing guidelines were excessive and would create "an unwarranted disparity" with other cases.

Judge Ellis also noted during the hearing that Manafort "is not before the court for any allegations that he, or anyone at his direction, colluded with the Russian government to influence the 2016 election".

Manafort, 69, asked Judge Ellis for mercy and thanked him for conducting a fair trial. He did not express remorse for his actions but talked about how the case has been difficult for him and his family. Manafort, who opted not to testify during his trial, told the court that "to say I have been humiliated and ashamed would be a gross understatement". He described his life as "professionally and financially in shambles".

Manafort, with noticeably grayer hair than just months ago, was brought into the courtroom in a wheelchair holding a cane, wearing a green prison jumpsuit emblazoned with the words "Alexandria inmate" on the back. It was a far cry from Manafort's usual dapper appearance and stylish garb. He has been jailed leading up to his sentencing.

After pro-Kremlin Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych's ouster, prosecutors said, Manafort lied to banks to secure loans and maintain an opulent lifestyle with luxurious homes, designer suits and even a $US15,000 ostrich-skin jacket.

Further sentencing next week

Manafort faces sentencing in a separate case in Washington on 13 March on two conspiracy charges to which he pleaded guilty last September.

US District Judge Amy Berman Jackson last month ruled that Manafort had breached his agreement to co- operate with Mr Mueller's office by lying to prosecutors about three matters pertinent to the Russia probe, including his interactions with a business partner they have said has ties to Russian intelligence.

He faces a statutory maximum of 10 years in the Washington case. It is not yet known if a sentence would be in addition to prison time imposed in today's case, or run concurrently.

Mueller report

Mr Mueller is preparing to submit to US Attorney General William Barr a report on his investigation into whether Trump's campaign conspired with Russia and whether Mr Trump has unlawfully sought to obstruct the probe. President Trump has denied collusion and obstruction and Russia has denied election interference.

Manafort is the only one of the 34 people and three companies charged by Mr Mueller to have gone to trial. Several others including former campaign aides Rick Gates and George Papadopoulos, former national security adviser Michael Flynn and former Trump personal lawyer Michael Cohen have pleaded guilty, while longtime Trump adviser Roger Stone has pleaded not guilty.

Gates, a key witness against Manafort, has yet to be sentenced due to his ongoing co-operation with prosecutors

Mr Mueller's charges led to the stunning downfall of Manafort, a prominent figure in Republican Party circles for decades who also worked as a consultant to such international figures as former Angolan rebel leader Jonas Savimbi, former Philippine president Ferdinand Marcos and Yanukovych.

- Reuters

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