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Paul Manafort sentenced to 7 1/2 years in prison total in Mueller probe

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Paul Manafort, the former chairman of President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign, was sentenced Wednesday in the second of two cases against him from the special counsel Robert Mueller.

Last week, Manafort was sentenced in the first case, brought in Virginia, to 47 months in prison.

In the second case, he pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy and one count of obstruction. US District Judge Amy Berman Jackson sentenced Manafort to 60 months for the first count, with 30 months running concurrent to his sentence in the Virginia case.

For the second count, Jackson sentenced Manafort to 13 months, to run consecutive to the sentence in the first count and the Virginia sentence.

In total, Manafort has been sentenced to 90 months, or seven and a half years in prison.

The Virginia charged him with multiple counts of tax fraud, bank fraud, and failure to report foreign bank accounts. He was convicted of eight out of 18 counts in the case.

Read more:Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort sentenced to 47 months in prison in Virginia case

In Washington, DC, Manafort was charged with additional counts of false statements, obstruction, conspiracy, money laundering, and failure to register as a foreign agent. He struck a plea deal before going to trial in the second case and pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy and obstruction.

But Jackson voided the deal after finding that Manafort lied to prosecutors about several events in the Russia probe.

During Wednesday’s sentencing hearing, prosecutors argued heavily for a strict sentence for the former Trump campaign chairman.

“Mr. Manafort committed crimes that undermined our political process,” Andrew Weissmann, a prosecutor on Mueller’s team, told the court.

He also emphasized how serious it was for Manafort to illegally lobby for foreign governments on US soil. “It is hard to imagine a more righteous prosecution of this act,” Weissmann said, adding that it is not the first time someone has been prosecuted for violating the Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA).

Weissmann also pointed to the crimes Manafort committed after already being charged in the Russia probe.

“After being indicted, while on bail from two federal courts in a high profile matter,” Weissmann said, Manafort engaged in criminal conduct that “goes to the heart of the American justice system.”

When Manafort had a chance to speak before the court, he expressed remorse, saying, “I’m sorry for what I’ve done … My behavior in the future will be very different … I have already begun to change.”

Jackson said she believed Manafort was being sincere in his apology. She also noted that evidence of “any conspiracy, collusion … was not presented in this case.”

“If the people don’t have the facts, democracy doesn’t work,” Jackson added. “Court is one of those places where facts still matter.”

Prosecutors have long urged the court to impose a harsh sentence on the former Trump campaign chairman, calling him a “bold” and “hardened” criminal whose actions warrant a tougher punishment.

Manafort’s conduct, even after he pleaded guilty to two federal crimes, “reflects a hardened adherence to committing crimes and lack of remorse,” prosecutors wrote in a sentencing memo, adding that he “repeatedly and brazenly violated the law.”

They added that Manafort not only engaged in criminal conduct leading up to his first indictment, but his actions also “remarkably went unabated even after indictment.”

Read more:People have a lot to say about Paul Manafort’s 47-month prison sentence on tax and bank-fraud charges

“The sentence in this case must take into account the gravity of this conduct, and serve both to specifically deter Manafort and generally deter those who would commit a similar series of crimes,” the memo said.

Manafort’s lawyers, meanwhile, have downplayed the severity of his conduct and accused Mueller of “spreading misinformation” to “vilify” Manafort.

Noting that he was a first-time, nonviolent offender, defense attorneys wrote in an earlier sentencing memo that Manafort accepted responsibility for two counts of conspiracy and obstruction, and he “admitted his guilt with respect to the conduct involved in the remaining charges in this case.”

Meanwhile, Ellis’ ruling last week stirred controversy because it fell well short of federal sentencing guidelines, which recommend 19.5 to 24 years prison time for the crimes Manafort was convicted of in Virginia. Legal experts also criticized Ellis’ statement that Manafort had lived an “otherwise blameless” life before being convicted of financial crimes.

Read more:What Paul Manafort’s 47-month prison term for bank and tax fraud says about mandatory minimum sentences

“A below-guidelines sentence would’ve been perfectly fair but 47 months is a joke,” tweeted Elie Honig, a former federal prosecutor from the Southern District of New York.

“Steal millions from US Government, violate bail, get convicted by jury, fake cooperate, lie to prosecutors, refuse to accept responsibility – and get an enormous break. That’s an unjust sentence,” Honig added.

Walter Shaub, an attorney focusing on government ethics who formerly served as the director of the US Office of Government Ethics used Manafort’s sentence to allude to the fact that some get harsher sentences for lesser crimes.

“They sure have two different kinds of justice in this country,” he said in a tweet.

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