Paul Manafort: Trump’s former campaign chairman indicted in New York on charges beyond pardon power of president

16 new charges follow sentencing in federal court

Andrew Buncombe
Wednesday 13 March 2019 13:56 GMT
White House refuses to rule out Manafort pardon

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Louise Thomas

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The downfall of Donald Trump’s former campaign manager has been cemented after he was told he will spend seven years in jail and was then charged with fresh offences – indictments beyond the scope of a presidential pardon.

Minutes after a federal judge in Washington DC sentenced Paul Manafort to around three-and-a half years for money laundering and unregistered lobbying, officials in New York said they were bringing 16 fresh charges against the 69-year-old.

The charges, brought by Manhattan County district attorney Cyrus Vance were interpreted as a means of ensuring Manafort serves prison time, even if he obtains a presidential pardon over his other convictions. A presidential pardon only extends to federal crimes.

“Following an investigation commenced by our Office in March 2017, a Manhattan grand jury has charged Mr Manafort with state criminal violations which strike at the heart of New York’s sovereign interests, including the integrity of our residential mortgage market,” Mr Vance said in a statement.

“I thank our prosecutors for their meticulous investigation, which has yielded serious criminal charges for which the defendant has not been held accountable.”

He added: “No one is beyond the law in New York.”

The charge sheet lays out allegations that Manafort, who served as Trump’s campaign manager for a brief but crucial period in 2016, committed a series of financial offences.

The first count of residential mortgage fraud, claims the defendant “in the county of New York and elsewhere, during the period from on or about 22 December 2015 to on or about 7 March 2016, knowingly and with intent to defraud, presented, caused to be presented, and prepared with knowledge and belief that it would be used in applying for, underwriting and closing a residential mortgage loan, a written statement which contained materially false information”.

Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort sentenced to nearly four years in prison for tax and bank fraud

The new charges came after Manafort attended his second federal sentencing, where a judge told him he would spend around seven years behind bars, as a result of two prosecutions.

On Wednesday, he was sentenced over allegations arising out of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s alleged interference in the 2016 election. Last September, Manafort pleaded guilty to conspiracy counts related to money laundering, unregistered lobbying and attempted witness tampering.

According to Reuters, judge Amy Berman Jackson told Manafort: “It is hard to overstate the number of lies and the amount of fraud and the extraordinary amount of money involved.”

Reading from a three-page statement, Manafort asked for mercy and said the criminal charges against him have “taken everything from me already”. He pleaded with the judge not to impose any additional time beyond the sentence he had received last week in a separate case in Virginia.

“I am sorry for what I have done and all the activities that have gotten us here today,” he said. “While I cannot undo the past, I will ensure that the future will be very different.”

In a separate case in Virginia last week, Manafort was sentenced to spend 47 months in jail after pleading guilty to tax and financial fraud in relation to his work for Ukraine’s former pro-Russia president, Viktor Yanukovych.

Manafort told that court: “To say I have been humiliated and ashamed would be a gross understatement.”

While Mr Trump has not stated whether he intends to pardon Manafort, the New York Times pointed out he has often spoken of his power to pardon and has frequently defended his former manager, calling him a “brave man”, after Manafort appeared to offer nothing incriminating about the president.

In contrast, the president has been scathing about his former lawyer, Michael Cohen, who is to serve three years in jail after admitting paying hush money to two women on the eve of the election. He said he did so to protect Mr Trump, who he called a “racist and a conman”.

On Wednesday, Trump told reporters he felt “very bad” for his former chairman.

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