Saying He’s Been ‘Vilified,’ Manafort Pushes for Light Sentence

(CN) – Paul Manafort fought back Monday against a scorching sentencing memo that describes him as an unrepentant serial liar who “presents a grave risk of recidivism,” claiming his “‘garden-variety’ and ‘esoteric’ offenses have led to Mr. Manafort being wildly vilified in a manner this country has not experienced in decades.”

The former campaign chair for President Donald Trump says he’s already been punished by the forfeiture of millions in assets and should be sentenced to a lot less than the 10-year maximum he faces for one of the two criminal cases against him.

And while he acknowledges he’s committed some crimes – and pleaded guilty to them – Manafort says Special Counsel Robert Mueller has made mountains out of mole hills.

“Mr. Manafort is not the “brazen” criminal that the special counsel paints him to be,” Manafort says in a 47-page memo. “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 and he failed to report to the government the source and amount of all of the income that he made from those activities. He subsequently attempted to conceal his actions from the authorities.

“To be clear: earning income from political consulting in foreign countries like Ukraine is legitimate in and of itself, and many skilled advisers and campaign managers on both sides of the political spectrum do so,” he continues. “What made Mr. Manafort’s conduct illegal in this regard was that he failed to file disclosure forms under Foreign Agents Registration Act, which would have required that he not only identify the foreign political parties and/or governments on whose behalf he was working, but also the income that he was earning.”

Rather than accept Mueller’s argument Manafort is a hardened criminal likely to reoffend, the 70-year-old urges the court to “exercise its broad discretion and impose a sentence substantially below the statutory maximum, especially since Mr. Manafort has pled guilty and accepted responsibility for his actions, has been held in protective solitary confinement for almost nine months, and has agreed to forfeit the vast majority of his assets accumulated over a lifetime of work.”

In his heavily redacted sentencing memo filed Feb. 16, Mueller said Manafort poses “a grave risk of recidivism,” and that nothing in his background “mitigates his criminality.”

On top of his upcoming sentence in the Eastern District of Virginia, where a jury convicted him of financial crimes including bank and tax fraud, Manafort could face addition time from the charges in Washington, D.C.

In Virginia, Manafort’s sentencing range under federal guidelines is 19 to 24 years, and he could face up to 10 additional years in the Washington, D.C., case though it’s not yet clear whether the latter would run simultaneously or be added onto the Virginia sentence.

Manafort will be sentenced in Virginia on March 8, followed by sentencing in Washington, D.C., on March 13.

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