Paul Manafort: Trump's ex-campaign manager should serve at least 20 years, special counsel Robert Mueller recommends

Andrew Buncombe

Donald Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort should serve at least 20 years in prison, Robert Mueller has recommended.

In requesting what will effectively be a life sentence for the 69-year-old, Mr Mueller also asked a judge that he push ahead with sentencing for the man who served as Mr Trump’s campaign manager for just a few months in the summer of 2016.

“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,” prosecutors wrote in a court filing on Friday night.

“The sentence here should reflect the seriousness of these crimes, and serve to both deter Manafort and others from engaging in such conduct.”

The recommendation from the office of Mr Mueller that Manafort serve between 19.5 to 24.5 years in prison, came after the veteran political operative was last August convicted by a jury in Virginia for bank fraud, tax fraud and other financial crimes related to money he earned working for Ukrainian politicians. A month after that, he pleaded guilty to two conspiracy charges in a related case as part of his cooperation agreement.

The office of Mr Mueller said Manafort’s age should not be a factor in the judge’s decision on how long to jail him for.

“Manafort’s age does not eliminate the risk of recidivism he poses – particularly given that his pattern of criminal activity has occurred over more than a decade and that the most recent crimes he pled guilty to occurred from February to April 2018, when he conspired to tamper with witnesses at a time when he was under indictment in two separate districts,” the prosecutors wrote.

Originally, judge TS Ellis planned to sentence Manafort on 8 February, but cancelled the sentencing hearing last month. He said a dispute in Manafort’s criminal case in the District of Columbia could have an impact on his sentence.

At the time, Manafort was fighting accusations from Mr Mueller that he had breached his plea deal by lying to federal prosecutors. He claimed any misstatements were not intentional, The Hill reported.

Manafort had agreed in September to plead guilty to two counts of conspiracy and to fully cooperate with the special counsel’s investigations to avoid a second criminal trial. But the special counsel said Manafort had lied in interviews about a range of topics.

After hearing arguments from both sides, judge Amy Berman Jackson on Wednesday ruled that Manafort had indeed fact intentionally lied to the FBI, the special counsel’s office and a grand jury about a payment from a company to a law firm and his interactions and communications with Konstantin Kilimnik, a former business associate who is suspected of having ties to Russian intelligence, the news site said.

“Neither the probation department nor the government is aware of any mitigating factors,” the prosecutors wrote in their 120-page filing.

“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 $6m in taxes at a time when he had substantial resources. Manafort committed bank fraud to supplement his liquidity because his lavish spending exhausted his substantial cash resources when his overseas income dwindled.”

It added: “Finally, Manafort pled guilty in September 2018 in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia to others crimes committed over an even longer period.”

Manafort served as Mr Trump’s campaign manager from June 2016 until August 2016, until he resigned as details emerged of his dealing with Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych.

During that period, Mr Trump secured the Republican Party’s nomination for president at its convention in Cleveland, Ohio.