Following this week’s ruling that former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort lied repeatedly to investigators, special counsel Robert Mueller filed a sentencing memo on Friday requesting that Manafort spend 19.5 years to 24.5 years in prison for his financial crimes.
The sentencing memo pertains only to Manafort’s court battle in Virginia, where he was convicted of eight charges of financial crimes, including bank fraud and tax fraud. Manafort faces a separate set of charges in Washington, D.C., to which he pleaded guilty and which carry lesser sentences. Both cases are related directly to Manafort’s work in 2016, and his links to officials and operatives in the former Soviet space.
The memo describes how Manafort lived richly on the millions he earned secretly and hid from authorities. Over the years, the court heard, he defrauded governments and banks of millions of dollars. He spent lavishly on himself, Mueller’s office told the court. Prosecutors said his advanced age (he’s 69) should not compel the court to show leniency to Manafort, given the seriousness of his offenses and the risk of recidivism. His last crime related to these charges was committed as recently April 2018.
Manafort faces fines in this case of up to $24.8 million, plus forfeiture of up to $4.4 million. He’s already forfeited millions in assets for his other case, including almost $22 million in New York real restate.
The judge issued a ruling in the case that Manafort lied to prosecutor on Wednesday. If the judge agrees with the hefty sentence recommended by prosecutors, it’s likely Manafort will spend the rest of his life in prison. His only hope for getting out would be a pardon from President Donald Trump. Talk of a pardon has increased over the past few days, given Manafort’s blatant lies to investigators even after he struck a plea deal.
However, while a pardon from Trump would grant Manafort freedom, it would also put the president in a bind. Congress could subsequently subpoena Manafort for information pertaining to ongoing investigations into Russian ties with the Trump campaign. And following a pardon, Manafort could no longer invoke his Fifth Amendment right against having to give testimony.