Trump's ex-campaign manager Manafort given another prison term

Manafort gets an additional three and half years in prison on top of a four-year sentence last week.

    Manafort has been jailed since last June [Kevin Lamarque/Reuters]
    Manafort has been jailed since last June [Kevin Lamarque/Reuters]

    Donald Trump's former campaign manager Paul Manafort has been sentenced to 73 months in prison for two conspiracy charges arising from Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russia's role in the 2016 US presidential election.

    On Wednesday, US District Judge Amy Berman Jackson said 30 of the months would run concurrently with Manafort's sentence last week in a separate case when the Republican political consultant was sentenced to 47 months in prison for tax and bank fraud in a separate Mueller case.

    Manafort, who will serve just over 90 months in prison, apologised for his actions and asked for leniency during his sentencing hearing.

    "I am sorry for what I have done and all the activities that have gotten us here today," Manafort said as he read from a written statement.

    "While I cannot undo the past, I will ensure that the future will be very different," he added. 

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    The 69-year-old, who arrived in court in a wheelchair, said he was the primary caregiver of his wife and wanted the chance for them to resume their life together.

    His plea for leniency followed prosecutor Andrew Weissmann's scathing assessment of crimes that the government said spanned more than a decade and continued even while Manafort was awaiting trial.

    He said Manafort took steps to conceal his foreign lobbying work, laundered millions of dollars to fund a lavish lifestyle and then, while under house arrest, coached other witnesses to lie on his behalf.

    Manafort has been jailed since last June, when his house arrest was revoked over allegations that he sought to influence witnesses by trying to get them to give evidence in a certain way.

    Foreign lobbying

    Manafort was being sentenced for concealing from the government foreign lobbying work.

    The Mueller team had prosecuted Manafort in Washington and Virginia for his foreign consulting work on behalf of a pro-Russia Ukrainian political party.

    Manafort was convicted of bank and tax fraud in the Virginia case and pleaded guilty in Washington to two conspiracy counts, each punishable by up to five years in prison. 

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    On Wednesday, Judge Jackson indicated she would give Manafort some credit for accepting responsibility for his crimes by virtue of having pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy last September.

    On top of the 47 months term he received last week, Manafort could have faced an additional 10-year sentence on Wednesday in Mueller's investigation into ties between the Trump election campaign and Russia.

    Defence lawyer Kevin Downing suggested Manafort was being unduly punished because of the "media frenzy" generated by the appointment of a special counsel.

    Mueller's investigation nears end

    The hearings for Manafort mark a bookend of sorts for Mueller's investigation as it inches towards a conclusion.

    Manafort and business associate Rick Gates were among the first of 34 people charged, and though the charges against Manafort were not tied to his work on the Trump campaign, his foreign entanglements have made him a subject of intrigue to prosecutors assessing whether the campaign colluded with Russia to sway the outcome of the election.

    Mueller is also looking into whether Trump has attempted to obstruct the investigation.

    The US president has called the investigation a "witch-hunt" and denied any collusion. Russia has denied the US intelligence community's finding that Moscow interfered in the US political arena.

    Al Jazeera's Patty Culhane, reporting from Washington, DC, said Manafort was unable to stand when the judge walked in as he was suffering from gout. 

    The judge also criticised Manafort for treating the court case as a PR exercise, said Culhane before adding that it was possible for President Trump to pardon Manafort, but he would still be subject to state laws.

    Meanwhile, Manafort was indicted in New York City on mortgage fraud, conspiracy, and other state charges, the Manhattan district attorney announced on Wednesday.

    Kathleen Manafort attended her husband's hearing on Wednesday [Kevin Lamarque/Reuters]

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies