Mueller team's sentencing memo on Manafort is released

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Moments ago the Special Counsel filed an 800-page sentencing memorandum for former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

Manafort pleaded guilty in September to two counts of conspiring stemming from his Ukrainian political consulting work.

Each count carries a maximum of five years in prison, a much lower potential punishment than in Manafort's separate tax and bank fraud case in Virginia.

Special counsel prosecutor Andrew Weissmann suggested at a February 4 hearing in the case that a potential pardon may have tainted Manafort's cooperation with the government, incentivizing him to break the plea deal. "Manafort chose repeatedly and knowingly to violate the law - whether the laws proscribed garden-variety crimes such as tax fraud, money laundering, obstruction of justice, and bank fraud, or more esoteric laws that he nevertheless was intimately familiar with, such as the Foreign Agents Registration Act". He faces up to 24 years in prison and tens of millions of dollars in possible fines for that conviction.

Mueller is investigating whether anyone in Trump's campaign conspired with Russians who interfered in the 2016 USA elections.

While Mueller did not recommend a specific sentence he portrayed Manafort as a "hardened" criminal who was at risk of repeating criminal behavior once he is released from prison.

Deceit was fundamental to Manafort's crimes, prosecutors wrote, and "it extended to tax preparers, bookkeepers, banks, the Treasury Department, the Department of Justice National Security Division, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, 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".

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"His criminal actions were bold, some of which were committed while under a spotlight due to his work as the campaign chairman and, later, while he was out on bail from this Court". Prosecutors said they'll reserve the right to ask Jackson to run the two sentences consecutively. After his guilty plea, Manafort "committed the additional crimes of perjury and making false statements".

The New York Times reported Friday that the New York state attorney general is preparing charges against Manafort, which would keep him in legal limbo even after a pardon.

Manafort's lawyers might seek to challenge any NY charges as violating laws against double jeopardy, or repeatedly prosecuting people for the same alleged crimes. But prosecutors told Jackson that he breached that deal by lying, and the judge agreed in a February 13 ruling.

Although serious, none of Manafort's convictions relate to so-called "collusion" between the Trump campaign and Russian Federation.

Manafort, who has been jailed for months and turns 70 in April, will have a chance to file his own sentencing recommendation next week.

Trump has so far refused to take pardoning Manafort off the table and routinely criticizes the Mueller investigation as a "witch hunt" and "McCarthyism", leading experts to speculate that Manafort may have been remaining loyal to the president in hopes of a pardon. A Mueller prosecutor also said earlier this month that an August 2016 meeting between Manafort and Kilimnik goes to the "heart" of the Russian Federation probe.

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