Former Trump campaign chairman Manafort apologizes, asks judge for leniency at hearing

Paul Manafort President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman leaves Federal District Court in Washington. AP

Judge Amy Berman Jackson was apparently unmoved by Manafort's speech, slapping him with a 6-year prison term for two conspiracy charges related to illegal lobbying.

Manafort apologized for his actions and asked for leniency during a sentencing hearing.

A federal judge had minutes earlier determined Manafort will spend a total of 7.5 years in federal prison for a decade's worth of financial and lobbying crimes and obstruction of justice. Judge T.S. Ellis, a Reagan appointee in the Eastern District of Virginia, sentenced Manafort to four years in prison for bank and tax fraud, a fraction of the 19 to 24 years called for in Virginia sentencing guidelines.

Prior to Manafort's being sentenced in federal court or the announcement of the state indictment, President Trump had declined to rule out the prospect of a pardon for the federal crimes of which Manafort has pleaded guilty or been convicted.

"But for a short stint as a campaign manager in a presidential election, I don't think we'd be here today", Manafort lawyer Kevin Downing told Jackson.

Manafort's team said even though Manafort failed to register as a foreign agent, he did communicate with U.S. State Department officials in Kiev in 2013, suggesting that the government at least had some awareness of what he was doing.

Jackson found that Manafort's lies included matters "material" to the Mueller probe, including interactions with his longtime Russian aide in Ukraine, Konstantin Kilimnik, whom the Federal Bureau of Investigation assessed to have ties to Russian intelligence.

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. He said he was "ashamed and embarrassed" for the impact that the case has had on his family and friends.

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But Jackson dismissed his plea for no more prison time on the charges of conspiring to launder money and tamper with witnesses.

Adding to his legal woes, Manafort was also charged Wednesday with mortgage fraud, conspiracy and other counts in a new indictment in New York City.

Manafort had made a last ditch apology for all his wrongdoing, unlike last week's court appearance, asking the judge to add no time to the sentence he'd already received. "He has not learned a harsh lesson", prosecutor Andrew Weissmann told the court, referring to the witness tampering charge.

Paul Manafort, President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman, departs an arraignment hearing in Alexandria, Va., on March 8, 2018.

Most of the charges Manafort faced dealt with consulting work that the longtime political consultant did in Ukraine from 2004 to 2014.

Vance said an investigation began in March 2017, roughly six months after Manafort was sacked as Trump's campaign chairman amid allegations of a covert lobbying operation on behalf of pro-Russian interests in Ukraine. On Wednesday, she indicated that 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. He agreed to cooperate with the investigation and has yet to be sentenced.

President Donald Trump, however, tweeted his sympathies for Manafort, saying incorrectly that "both the Judge and the lawyer in the Paul Manafort case stated loudly and for the world to hear that there was NO COLLUSION with Russian Federation".

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