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Special counsel Robert Mueller calls for ex-Trump campaign boss Paul Manafort to be imprisoned for up to 24 years, slapped with huge fines

Key Points
  • Special counsel Robert Mueller in Friday night said federal guidelines suggest a sentence ex-Trump campaign chief Paul Manafort to between about 19 years to 24 years in prison in his Virginia case.
  • Mueller, in a court filing, also said guidelines suggest a fine Manafort between $50,000 to $24 million, an order the longtime Republican operative pay restitution of more than $24 million, and forfeit more than $4 million.
  • Manafort was convicted last year of multiple crimes connected to his work for pro-Russian politicians in Ukraine. That work predated his tenure with Donald Trump's presidential campaign in 2016.
Paul Manafort, former campaign manager for Donald Trump, exits the District Courthouse after a motion hearing in Alexandria, Virginia, on Friday, May 4, 2018.
Andrew Harrer | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Special counsel Robert Mueller said Friday that federal sentencing guidelines suggest that a judge in Virginia to send ex-Trump campaign chief Paul Manafort to prison for between about 19 years to 24 years for crimes that include tax fraud and bank fraud.

Mueller, in a court filing, also revealed that the guidelines suggest that Judge T.S. Ellis fine Manafort between $50,000 to $24 million, order the longtime Republican operative to pay restitution of more than $24 million, and make him forfeit more than $4 million.

The special counsel's filing says that Mueller agrees with how the guidelines for Manafort's sentence were calculated for a pre-sentence investigation report prepared by federal probation officials.

But Mueller added that "the government does not take a position as to the specific sentence to be imposed here" in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia.

However, the special counsel also said that "Manafort acted for more than a decade as if he were above the law, and deprived the federal government and various financial institutions of millions of dollars. The sentence here should reflect the seriousness of these crimes, and serve to both deter Manafort and others from engaging in such conduct."

Federal sentencing guidelines are calculated by formulas that take into account the seriousness of a defendant's crimes, the amount of money involved in the crimes, their acceptance of responsibility, criminal history and other factors. The guidelines are not binding on a judge, but are often used as a reference point for determining a criminal sentence. 

Mueller's filing came hours after he asked Ellis, to set a sentencing date for Manafort "as soon as practicable."

Manafort was convicted at trial last Aug. 21 in the Virginia court of eight felony counts, which included tax fraud, failure to file a report of a foreign bank and financial accounts, and bank fraud. A jury deadlocked on 10 other counts.

The case was related to income Manafort earned while doing consulting work for pro-Russia politicians in Ukraine. That work predated his tenure of leading the Trump campaign for several months in 2016.

Manafort already is due to be sentenced March 13 in a related criminal case in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. He pleaded guilty in that court in September, days before a scheduled trial, to two counts of conspiracy.

Mueller's filing says, "Neither the Probation Department nor the government is aware of any mitigating factors" in Manafort's case.

"Manafort did not commit these crimes out of necessity or hardship. He was well educated, professionally successful, and financially well off. He nonetheless cheated the United States Treasury and the public out of more than $6 million in taxes at a time when he had substantial resources," Mueller said.

"Manafort committed bank fraud to supplement his liquidity because his lavish spending exhausted his substantial cash resources when his overseas income dwindled."

"Manafort chose to do this for no other reason than greed, evidencing his belief that the law does not apply to him," the special counsel said.

As part of his guilty plea in Washington, Manafort agreed to cooperate with Mueller's ongoing probe of Russian interference in the 2016 election, and possible efforts by members of Trump's campaign to aid that interference.

However, in November, Mueller accused Manafort of breaking that plea deal by lying to federal authorities about multiple subjects.

Earlier this week, the judge in the Washington case, Amy Berman Jackson, said that Manafort had lied several times to the FBI, the special counsel's office and a grand jury. But she also said Mueller had failed to provide enough evidence to prove Manafort had lied about several other issues.

Jackson's finding means that the special counsel is no longer bound to recommend any leniency for Manafort when he is sentenced.

Manafort's legal team had disputed Mueller's claim that he broke the plea deal.

Earlier Friday, Trump's spokeswoman, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, said she has been interviewed by Mueller's team.

Manafort, 69, has been in jail without bail since last June, when Mueller asked him and a former business associate, Konstantin Kilimnik, of trying to tamper with witnesses in what was at the time his upcoming criminal trials.

Mueller has accused Kilimnik of being a Russian spy. Kiliminik has denied that claim, but he remains abroad, and out of reach of American authorities.