Robert Mueller describes Paul Manafort as a criminal who "repeatedly and brazenly" broke the law

Robert Mueller's sentencing memo accuses former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort of "brazen" criminality

Published February 24, 2019 10:00AM (EST)

Paul Manafort (Alexandria Detention Center)
Paul Manafort (Alexandria Detention Center)

Special counsel Robert Mueller wrote a scathing memo about Paul Manafort, President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman, as the former Republican power player prepares to receive his sentences as a convicted felon early next month.

According to the sentencing memorandum drafted by Mueller's team of prosecutors, "Manafort presents many aggravating sentencing factors and no warranted mitigating factors." The document lists a litany of Manafort crimes, including "garden-variety" offenses like "tax fraud, money laundering, obstruction of justice, and bank fraud" and comparatively more "esoteric" crimes like breaking the Foreign Agents Registration Act. It also claims that Manafort was "bold" in his criminality, engaging in illegal activity not only while he worked for the Trump campaign but even while he was on bail during the trial presided over by U. S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson. In that case, Manafort engaged in witness tampering, which the document claims "went to the heart of the criminal justice system" and was done "so he would not be held accountable for his crimes."

In perhaps the most scathing sentence in the memorandum, the authors list the groups that Manafort lied to, which include "the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), this office, and the grand jury" as well as "tax preparers, bookkeepers, banks, the Treasury Department, the Department of Justice National Security Division, the FBI, the Special Counsel’s Office, the grand jury, his own legal counsel, Members of Congress, and members of the executive branch of the United States government." It also notes that "nothing about Manafort’s upbringing, schooling, legal education, or family and financial circumstances mitigates his criminality."

As the document notes in summing up its position on Manafort, the former campaign chairman "repeatedly and brazenly violated the law," in the process revealing "a hardened adherence to committing crimes and lack of remorse."

Manafort is scheduled for two sentencing hearings, one on March 8 for eight felony counts of bank and tax fraud and another on March 13 for conspiracy charges and lying to federal prosecutors and a grand jury. The two judges involved in Manafort's cases are Judge T. S. Ellis III, who was criticized for seeming to be biased in favor of Manafort during last year's trial, and Judge Amy Berman Jackson, who made headlines earlier this month after another erstwhile Trump associate, Roger Stone, seemed to threaten her on Instagram.

Although Manafort's sentencing hearing under Ellis had originally been scheduled for earlier this month, it was postponed due to his attorneys needing to resolve a dispute over Manafort's cooperation testimony. Last week Judge Jackson ruled that, because Manafort had deliberately lied on a number of important matters, his plea deal had been voided and Mueller could call for a harsh sentence.

At this point Manafort's best hope is for Trump to pardon him, although even that most likely won't get him off the hook completely. The Manhattan district attorney’s office is already preparing state criminal charges against Manafort in the even that Trump pardons him, since the presidential pardon does not extend to crimes which violate state law, according to The New York Times.

Correction: Salon originally misidentified Judge Amy Berman Jackson as Judge T. S. Ellis III.

By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer for Salon. He holds an MA in History from Rutgers University-Newark and is ABD in his PhD program in History at Lehigh University. His work has appeared in Mic, Quartz and MSNBC.

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