Paul Manafort submitted his DC sentencing memo. I lay out some of his more ridiculous claims about wanting to serve public servants like Mobutu Sese Seko, Ferdinand Marcos and Jonas Savimbi and his use of “garden variety” to describe his epic corruption in this thread. Particularly given the way that parts of this memo will surely piss off Amy Berman Jackson (and probably even TS Ellis, his EDVA judge), the real substance of his argument is this:
Importantly, the defendant has not been charged with any crimes related to the primary focus of the Special Counsel’s investigation; i.e., “any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump[,]” otherwise referred to as “Russian collusion” by the national media.
As said at the beginning of the case, there is no evidence of Russian collusion.
Shortly after Mr. Trump’s election, the Acting Attorney General appointed the Special Counsel in May 2017 to investigate allegations that his campaign colluded with the Russian government to influence the 2016 election. The scrutiny was (and remains) intense because the investigation involves a sitting U.S. president.
Rousing the defendant and his wife from bed, the federal agents entered their home with guns drawn and searched high and low—not for evidence of Russia collusion—but rather for evidence of tax and financial crimes and Mr. Manafort’s failure to file forms under the obscure FARA statute.
In October 2017, unable to establish that Mr. Manafort engaged in any Russia collusion, the Special Counsel’s Office charged Mr. Manafort in the District of Columbia with crimes that did not relate to Mr. Manafort’s work on the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign and generally involved his employment years ago by Ukrainian oligarchs, politicians and the Party of Regions. Several months later, in February 2018, the Special Counsel increased the pressure by charging Mr. Manafort in the Eastern District of Virginia (EDVA) with tax fraud, failing to report foreign bank accounts, and bank fraud—allegations, once again, that predated the 2016 campaign or that were unrelated to collusion between Mr. Trump’s campaign and the Russian government.5
5 As U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis, III noted in the EDVA matter, the Special Counsel’s strategy in bringing charges against Mr. Manafort had nothing to do with the Special Counsel’s core mandate—Russian collusion—but was instead designed to “tighten the screws” to compel Mr. Manafort to cooperate and provide incriminating information about others. See United States v. Manafort, 18-CR-0083-TSE (EDVA), Tr. of May 4, 2018 Motions Hearing at 5
The Special Counsel’s investigation and prosecution in this case (and the EDVA case) do not charge him with anything related to Russia collusion or to the presidential campaign. 34
34 As Judge Ellis noted in the EDVA case: “And so what is really going on … is that this indictment [was] used as a means of exerting pressure on the defendant to give you information that really is in [the Special Counsel’s] appointment, but itself has nothing whatever to do with it.” United States v. Manafort, 18-CR0083-TSE (E.D.Va. 2018), Tr. of May 4, 2018 Motions Hearing at 8.
The sentences already imposed in other cases that have been investigated and/or prosecuted by the Special Counsel’s Office reflect the fact that courts recognize that these prosecutions bear little to no relation to the Special Counsel’s core mandate of investigating allegations that the Trump campaign colluded with the Russian government to influence the 2016 election.
Particularly given ABJ’s finding that Manafort lied about how he gave the Russian government polling data via Konstantin Kilimnik amid conversations about a sanctions-ending Ukraine “peace” plan, and given that the warrant to search his Alexandria condo explicitly including Russian conspiracy in the affidavit, the eight different claims Mueller wasn’t searching for and didn’t find “collusion” are false.
But that’s doesn’t matter. Manafort’s job — if he wants the pardon he has been playing for all this time — is to keep repeating that lie, just like the guy he’s speaking to.
As I disclosed last July, I provided information to the FBI on issues related to the Mueller investigation, so I’m going to include disclosure statements on Mueller investigation posts from here on out. I will include the disclosure whether or not the stuff I shared with the FBI pertains to the subject of the post.