[NOTE: On Mar. 12, 2019, this post appeared at Dan Rather’s News & Guts.]
Judge T.S. Ellis III thought he faced a dilemma. A jury in his Virginia courtroom had found Paul Manafort guilty on eight counts of bank and tax fraud; a single holdout prevented conviction on the remaining 10 counts. After his conviction, Manafort refused to accept responsibility and showed no remorse for his crimes. And the federal sentencing guidelines called for 19.5 to 24 years of incarceration.
The problem, according to Ellis, was that Manafort “has led an otherwise blameless life.” So he reduced Manafort’s sentence to 47 months — nine of which he has already served because Judge Amy Berman Jackson revoked his bail for witness tampering in the DC case pending against him.
Om March 13, Manafort faces Judge Jackson for sentencing. From the Trump-Russia Timeline, here are a few highlights of the confessed convict’s life that she sees:
APRIL 11, 2016: Manafort owes millions to Vladimir Putin’s ally, oligarch Oleg Deripaska. Manafort’s liaison to Deripaska is Russian-Ukrainian Konstantin Kilimnik who, according to the FBI, has ties to Russian intelligence. Referring to his new status at the top of the Trump campaign, Manafort sends Kilimnik a message: “How do we use to get whole?”
JULY 7, 2016: Through Kilimnik, Manafort offers private briefings on the US presidential campaign to Deripaska.
AUG. 2, 2016: Manafort meets with Kilimnik in Manhattan where they discuss a proposed Ukrainian “peace plan” that would lift US sanctions against Russia. Manafort also provides Kilimnik with private polling data relating to the US presidential campaign.
JUNE 15, 2018: Judge Jackson revokes Manafort’s bail after he engages in witness tampering.
SEPT. 14, 2018: Manafort pleads guilty to criminal conspiracy against the US and obstruction of justice, and he agrees to cooperate with prosecutors. Then he lies to them. Judge Jackson rules that Manafort’s false statements “center around the defendant’s relationship or communications… a topic at the undisputed core of the Office of Special Counsel’s investigation into… any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign.’”
As for Manafort’s life prior to the Trump campaign, The Atlantic’s Franklin Foer recites that Manafort:
— “Helped Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos bolster his image in Washington after he assassinated his primary political opponent.”
— “Worked to keep arms flowing to the Angolan generalissimo Jonas Savimbi, a monstrous leader bankrolled by the apartheid government in South Africa. While Manafort helped portray his client as an anti-communist ‘freedom fighter,’ Savimbi’s army planted millions of land mines in peasant fields, resulting in 15,000 amputees.”
— “Spent a decade as the chief political adviser to a clique of former gangsters in Ukraine… This was a group closely allied with the Kremlin, and Manafort masterminded its rise to power — thereby enabling Ukraine’s slide into Vladimir Putin’s orbit.”
— “Produced a public-relations campaign to convince Washington that Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych was acting within his democratic rights and duties when he imprisoned his most compelling rival for power.”
— “Stood mute as Yanukovych’s police killed 130 protesters in the Maidan [demonstrations in Kiev].”
A year after those killings, one of Manafort’s daughters sent a text message to her sister, saying that their father “had no moral or legal compass.”
“Don’t fool yourself,” Andrea wrote in March 2015. “That money we have is blood money. You know he has killed people in Ukraine? Knowingly. As a tactic to outrage the world and get focus on Ukraine. Remember when there were all those deaths taking place. A while back. About a year ago. Revolts and what not. Do you know whose strategy that was to cause that, to send those people out and get them slaughtered.”
As observer might reasonably ask what a blame-filled life looks like to Judge Ellis.
Here’s a complete list of the latest updates to the Trump-Russia Timeline:
NOV. 22, 2017: Sessions Pursues House Members’ Request to Consider Second Special Counsel to Investigate Clinton
NOV. 30, 2017: Prince Testifies Before House Intelligence Committee; Later Statements Raise Questions About His Truthfulness (revision of previous entry)
MAR. 4, 2019: Stone Pressed on Potential Violation of Court’s Gag Order
MAR. 4, 2019: Nadler Issues Document Requests
MAR. 4, 2019: Trump Attacks: Democrats, Nadler, Schiff, and Clinton, claiming ‘No Collusion’, ‘PRESIDENTIAL HARRASSMENT’, and McCarthyism
MAR. 5, 2019: Trump Attacks Nadler, Schiff, Clinton, ‘PRESIDENTIAL HARRASSMENT’
MAR. 5, 2019: Coordinated Resistance to Nadler’s Requests Begins
MAR. 5, 2019: Mueller Rebuts Manafort’s Sentencing Memo
MAR. 5, 2019: Judge Blasts Stone
MAR. 6, 2019: Trump Tweets Attack Democratic Investigators
MAR. 6, 2019: US Treasury Extends Deadline for Sanctions Against Another Deripaska Company
MAR. 7, 2019: Trump Tweets: Denies Campaign Finance Violations, Attacks Cohen
MAR. 7, 2019: Manafort Sentenced in Virginia; Attorney Says ‘No Collusion With Any Government Official or Russia’
MAR. 8, 2019: Trump Tweets: ‘PRESIDENTIAL HARRASSMENT’, Manafort Judge Said ‘No Collusion’, Attacks Cohen; Retweets Supporter Attacking Clinton, ‘Russia colluision hoax’, Steele, Nadler, Cohen, Sessions, Ohr
MAR. 9, 2018: Trump Attacks Schiff; ‘Witch Hunt Continues’
MAR. 10, 2019: Trump Attacks Ohr, Steele, Simpson, Fusion, Schiff, Cohen, Clinton, Democrats, ‘Witch Hunt’