Ex-Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort asks for mercy at his sentencing

U.S. judge sentences Trump ex-aide Manafort to under four years in prison

His conviction in August on eight counts involving hiding a foreign bank account and tax and bank fraud are not tied to the president or Russia's interference in the 2016 election.

The special counsel's office submitted a response to Paul Manafort's sentencing memo objecting to prosecutors' recommended prison sentence, saying that President Trump's former campaign chairman has a history of criminal conduct which should not be overlooked.

Judge T.S. Ellis handed down the sentence Thursday afternoon in a Federal court in Alexandria, VA.

Manafort hid millions of dollars he earned in Ukraine from the Internal Revenue Service and later inflated his income on bank loan applications.

In a rebuff to Mueller's call for stiff punishment, the judge called the official guidelines for a prison sentence of 19 to 24 years "excessive".

His associate, Rick Gates, plead guilty in February to two charges of conspiracy and lying to federal investigators, and served as the government's star witness in Manafort's trial.

He's paying the price for USA crimes he committed while advising pro-Russia politicians in Ukraine and after that, when his cash dried up. They do not directly address Russia's interference in the 2016 US presidential election. It said Manafort "blames everyone from the special counsel's office to his Ukrainian clients for his own criminal choices". "I concluded that it was legitimate" for the special counsel to charge Manafort with financial crimes, Ellis said.

Former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort arrives for a hearing at the E. Barrett Prettyman US Courthouse on 23 May 2018 in Washington, DC.

He is scheduled to be sentenced in the Washington case next week.

Mueller's team issued a scathing rebuttal, stating that Manafort had breached a plea agreement reached with the government and lied repeatedly to the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Special Counsel's office.

Along with Donald Trump Jr and the President's son-in-law Jared Kushner, Manafort was part of a meeting with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya in June 2016.

"Paul Manafort's deceit has now extended to virtually everyone he's met, I mean his nose is longer than Pinocchio's at this point", said Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi. He said he hoped to have an opportunity "to show the world who I know I really am".

Because Manafort was convicted in a federal court, he will be forced to serve nearly all of that four-year sentence, unless he is pardoned by President Trump.

Ellis in Virginia has sentenced hundreds of defendants during his 30 years on the federal bench - and in a court that's typically considered tough on crime.

Ellis also noted during the hearing that Manafort "is not before the court for any allegations that he, or anyone at his direction, colluded with the Russian government to influence the 2016 election".

The penalty may be steep enough to keep the longtime lobbyist and former Trump campaign chairman in prison for the rest of his life. They argued that Mueller went beyond the scope of his mandate to investigate Manafort. He sentenced Manafort to less than four years in prison and also ordered him to pay a fine of $50,000.

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