Paul Manafort’s prison sentence nearly doubled on Wednesday when a federal judge tacked on two previous guilty pleas that Manafort made before the court.
U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson said she was mostly unmoved by Manafort’s apology and added an additional 43 months to his 47-month prison sentence. The additional sentence for lobbying crimes and witness tampering joins a nearly 4-year sentence Manafort already had for tax and bank fraud.
Manafort, wearing a dark suit and seated in a wheelchair, issued a full-throated and blunt apology shortly before Jackson handed out his second — and final — prison sentence in the Mueller case.
“I am sorry for what I have done and for all the activities that have gotten us here today,” said Manafort, contrite and stone-faced.
But Jackson swiftly cast doubt on Manafort’s penitence, insinuating that it was insincere and hinting that she believed Manafort had previously calibrated his statements to appeal to President Donald Trump for a pardon — the only way out of a multi-year prison sentence at this point for the ex-Trump aide, who turns 70 next month.
“Saying, ‘I’m sorry I got caught,’ is not an inspiring plea for leniency,” Jackson said, exhaustively recounting Manafort’s deceptions and propensity for hiding money in offshore accounts, ducking millions in U.S. taxes, tampering with witnesses and repeatedly failing to come clean when confronted with his behavior.
According to the report, Manafort’s remarks in the federal courtroom may have been a verbal petition to President Trump and a legal pardon.
“Let me be very clear,” Manafort said, per Politico. “I accept the responsibility for the acts that have caused me to be here today.”
In his remarks, Politico reports Manafort shared that he had a “new self-awareness” and felt “shame” and “embarrassment” by the “suffering” he and others have been forced to endure.
“The person who I have been described as in public and in this courtroom is not someone that I recognize,” Manafort continued.
Ahead of the case, spectators were wondering how Jackson would make Manafort serve one sentencing and then the other or if she would allow him to serve the sentences concurrently. Jackson chose a mixture of both, Politico reports:
Manafort has been using a cane and a wheelchair in his recent court appearances and has asked for leniency by citing his deteriorating health, as well as the strains of solitary confinement at the Alexandria, Va., detention center.
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Ultimately, Jackson split her decision, making some of her sentence — 30 months — concurrent with the Virginia punishment, but ordering that the rest be served consecutively. Manafort’s nine months already spent in jail since his bond was revoked last June for witness tampering will count toward his time served, meaning Manafort is on track to be released from federal custody around the end of 2025.
Manafort’s legal hands now rest squarely on President Trump who could choose to pardon him, Mediaite reports.
Mediaite founder and ABC’s chief legal analyst Dan Abramspredicted that President Donald Trump will pardon his former campaign chief Paul Manafort in the days after the 2020 election.
“Is it just me being cynical — I think Manafort is going to get pardoned by Trump, I don’t think any of this matters,” Abrams said this afternoon while on his SiriusXM show.
“But he could… [do] it right after the election in 2020, win or lose. So he’s either won so it doesn’t matter, or he loses so it doesn’t matter,” Abrams continued, per the report. “Manafort’s going to get pardoned, ladies and gentleman. I’m telling you, in November 2020. So his sentence is a year and a half… I don’t think he’s going to want it to get involved before 2020.”
However, Trump shrugged off the idea of pardoning Manafort as recently as Friday.
“I don’t even discuss it,” he told reporters gathered outside the White House. “The only one discussing it is you.”
The president also said in November that a Manafort pardon has “never” been discussed but noted that he won’t “take it off the table.”
— The Hill (@thehill) March 14, 2019