Paulie’s Very Bad Day: “If the People Don’t Have the Facts, Democracy Can’t Work.” 

Recently, I got a new makeup artist for my TV appearances (which, of course, all have to do with the Russian investigation). She came to the US from Ukraine in the wake of Yanukovych’s ouster. When I told her I was talking about the Manafort the first time I met her, she expressed her hope that he would pay a price, here, for what he helped Yanukovych do to her country.

I like to think today is for her. Amy Berman Jackson sentenced Paul Manafort to an additional 43 in months in prison on top of the 47 from EDVA for crimes were tied to Manafort’s efforts to whitewash a brute, in Ukraine, Western Europe, and the US, and then hide the “blood money” (as his daughter called it) from tax authorities.

Immediately after the sentencing ended, Cy Vance announced a 16-count indictment in New York State, on charges that Trump cannot pardon. Whatever you think of Vance’s grandstanding, the NY indictment immediately shifts Manafort’s incentives for a pardon, because prison in NY State would be significantly less comfortable than FCI Cumberland, where Manafort will serve his federal charges. So any pardon might just hasten a move to less comfortable surroundings.

That means the entire strategy Manafort has pursued for the last 18 months, refusing to cooperate and then, when he did enter a plea deal, using it only to waste prosecutors’ time and share information with Trump, will serve no purpose.

Which is why I think today can best be summed up by the contrast between two statements. In the middle of a long judgment that was not televised but was superbly livetweeted by Zoe Tillman, Andrew Prokop, Ryan Reilly, and others, ABJ observed the gravity of Manafort’s FARA crimes by noting that, “If the people don’t have the facts, democracy can’t work.”

Immediately after the sentencing, Kevin Downing — the Manafort lawyer who, more than the others, has been cultivating Manafort’s pardon strategy — stepped out on the courtroom stairs and made a false statement that serves that pardon strategy (as he did last week) “Judge Jackson conceded that there was absolutely no evidence of Russian collusion in this case.” Protestors immediately called him a liar, and noted that that’s not what ABJ had said, hopefully to be picked up by every TV feed filming Downing.

Indeed, ABJ had just criticized that ploy in the courtroom.

During Wednesday’s sentencing, Jackson slammed Manafort and his lawyers for their focus on the fact that he was not charged in connection with his work on the Trump campaign or accused of colluding with the Russian government. She said that the “non-collusion mantra was a non sequitor,” unrelated to what sentence Manafort should receive, and that his lawyers made the “unsubstantiated” claim that Manafort was only charged with financial crimes predating his campaign work because Mueller’s office couldn’t charge him with anything to do with Russia.

The live-tweeting is what made it possible for protestors to spoil Downing’s effort to perform as Trump wanted him to, undermining Downing’s (and with it, Trump’s) effort to spin this verdict as an exoneration in the case in chief.

Today’s verdict was about Paul Manafort’s efforts to prevent voters in both Ukraine and the US from obtaining real facts.

And it turns out that President Trump isn’t going to be able to help Manafort avoid the consequences for that.

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. 

174 replies
    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      When posting a url, please delete the question mark and everything after it. On rare sites, it is required, but it is ordinarily unnecessary tracking data.

    • Molly Pitcher says:

      Apologies, I forgot to do it and didn’t notice until I was running out of the office.

  1. earlofhuntingdon says:

    That is, Ellis and Jackson explicitly said that the cases before them did not require findings of fact or conclusions of law regarding whether Russia “colluded” or conspired to affect the election of Donald Trump. Downing, on the steps of each of their courthouses, claimed the opposite. He blatantly lied about what judges said immediately after they said it. That would seem to require that Downing be censured by his state bar authorities.

    • Brian Calsyn says:

      And we ask, “why?” What counsel would stick his neck out like this for a pardon for a client. That’s not it. Trump is the client.

      • KM says:

        I think that was blatantly obvious from Downing’s very first comments immediately after Manafort’s initial indictment by the Special Counsel:

        Oct. 30, 2017: “I think you all saw today that President Donald Trump was correct. There is no evidence that Mr. Manafort or the Trump campaign colluded with the Russian government.”

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Yea, it seems pretty clear that Downing has a strong loyalty to Trump. I imagine he tells himself that it’s what he needs to do to be a zealous advocate for Manafort.

        Personally, I think that’s bullshit. He’s acting as if he has two clients, and Paulie is not the most important. Lying on Ellis and Jackson’s courthouse steps about what the judge said his client did or didn’t do is not helping his client one way or the other. It’s not good for Downing either, if he has to appear before those judges again. The person this most helps is Donald Trump, not Manafort, particularly since Trump is renowned for making promises he never keeps.

      • Desider says:

        And who is paying for Manafort’s counsel? Trump? (well, he’s too cheap, but some Trump supporter?)

        But I was glad Jackson went out of her way to disassociate her decision from Ellis’ sentencing, which I imagine (IANAL) could lead to legal challenges.

        I figure 5 years for a 70-year-old guy who wears ostrich will largely destroy him, whether softer fed pen or state facilities.

        • Edatbigmo says:

          I think a 5-6 year bid in a federal prison may be good for him.
          Maybe he can examine his life and try to reinvent himself.

  2. Anvil Leucippus says:

    I was worried for a brief bit of today that this wouldn’t shake out like it has. Though I am still steeling myself for where the fascists just quote ABJ on the first half of “Any conspiracy, collusion was not presented in this case” — and skip the last half, where she says “therefore it was not resolved by this case”. I may lose my sh#$ if I see that.

  3. Peterr says:

    Manafort now holds the record for the longest sentence handed down to a chairman of a successful presidential campaign. (The former record holder was Nixon’s attorney general John Mitchell.)

    So much winning!

  4. earlofhuntingdon says:

    If Trump had half a brain, he might consider commuting Paulie’s sentence, but not issue him a pardon. But why do either? Paulie apparently kept schtum about the important stuff affecting Trump – and other former clients who might react more violently were Paulie to spill the beans on them.

    • e.a.f. says:

      Will he or won’t he. Trump won’t pardon. It is doubtful he will commute. Manafort is no longer of any use to him. The pardon’s Trump has handed out aren’t “pardons”. A number of them were to dead people.

      My opinion, Manafort is keeping quiet not because of Trump but because of the work he did for Ukraine and Russia.

  5. Cautious Watcher says:

    i have to admit, I was quite pissed off last week at what Ellis gave Manafort. Compared to what other, less privileged people face on a regular basis, that slap on the wrist and claims of a “blameless life” felt like a mockery of justice. As far as I’m concerned, Vance can grandstand all day if it means Manafort is not free to continue doing the sort of ratfucking that he did here and in Ukraine. I do wish the time ABJ gave him was entirely consecutive instead of concurrent, but you can’t have it all.

  6. punaise says:

    with apologies to Jackson’s Fave:

    A B J
    It’s easy as, 1,2 tre
    As simple as, do re mi
    A B J, 1 2 tre
    Maybe you can’t flee, churl

    You got schooled to learn, Paul
    Things you never, never knew before
    Like “I” before “country” except after “me”
    And why 47 plus 73 makes 90
    Now, now, now
    I’m gonna teach you
    (Teach you, teach you)
    All about jail, Paul
    (All about jail)
    Sit yourself down, take a seat
    All you gotta do is repeat after me

    A B J
    It’s easy as, 1,2 tre
    As simple as, do re mi
    A B J, 1 2 tre
    Maybe you can’t flee, churl

    • rip says:

      @Punaise – you just don’t get enough R E S P E C T !

      Amazing how a bit of lighthearted humor can stick the knife in a bit deeper – Mack The Knife.

      • Puncutuated Equilibrium says:

        “Willie the Weeper” by Frankie “Half-Pint” Jaxon
        Have you heard the story, folks, of Paulie the Cheater?
        Paulie’s occupation was a lyin’ Trump bleater,
        He had a dreamin’ habit, he had it kind of bad,
        Listen, let me tell you ’bout the dream he had…

      • punaise says:

        LOL – you’re all so indulgent of my affliction – you should know better than to encourage it! :~)

    • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

      Had to come check in here today after seeing absolutely hilarious video of hecklers outside the VA courthouse making mincemeat of Doofus Downing. Here’s hoping that the next time Doofus Downing and his slimy ilk seek to grandstand, the hecklers break out in song with punaise’s jingle.

      I hope that today gave EW’s Ukrainian makeup artist some hope for her new nation.

      As for Cyrus Vance Jr… what CautiousWatcher said. x100.

  7. Ndividuate says:

    Nice and appropriate shoutout to the live-bloggers and the service they provided. I was following several feeds and about halfway through Judge ABJ’s closing comments, I thought, “her words are going to end up being more important than the numbers.”

    • emptywheel says:

      If anyone knows how hard that job is it’s me. And how valuable it is for those of us in flyover.

      • Reader 21 says:

        You unfailingly give credit where it’s due. A phenomenal journalist, and a patriot. Thank you.

    • PR says:

      Numbers matter.

      In last year’s shortlist of Words to Retire From Usage, “Grandstanding” made the top 20 cut. Does in-black-robe berating and responsible judicial chiding truly amount to much when doling out a mostly concurrent animic sentence? Fuck, No. Her words? Surely you jest in the age of “Grab Them By The Pussy”

      “What are words for when no one listens anymore”, punaise?

  8. pseudonymous in nc says:

    As I said in the other thread, Cy Vance may be a showboat but getting in before a potential commutation to time served may help with an obvious flight risk.

    I hope we find out sooner than later who’s paying Downing.

    • BobCon says:

      If the state’s case looks solid, is there any chance for Manafort to finally accept reality and cut a deal with Mueller, or has that ship already sailed, docked at its destination, disembarked, and added to a collection of historical ships like the USS Intrepid?

      • S. Pimpernel says:

        Never say never. When you’re after the biggest fish, no door is completely closed and a guy like soon to be seventy years old Manafort may see his only way to possibly have some sort of life left may “do the right thing”. He’s already meeting with a Russian and handing over pollling information. Not too much more should be reallly necessary, but he surely has more. And, independent corroboration may also be available to help. We’ll just have to wait and see.

    • e.a.f. says:

      flight risk? what you “writing” about. His wife needs him. Didn’t he ask not to be separated from his wife. Isn’t he her “care giver”.

      • Vinnie Gambone says:

        Say the pedophile president pardons or commutes the saboteurs’ sentence, -will said saboteur be released immediately? Or will he be back to wearing two ankle bracelets at home. Flight risk? Him and Butina will be sharing champagne on their flight back home to moscow together. The red carpet in Moscow is the dried blood of the many journalist and activist putin has had killed. In russia they torture you THEN kill you for the stuff the pedophile presidents scum have done. “Oh Martina, your fingernails look beautiful. We can’t believe they didn’t pull them out. “

  9. PSWebster says:

    You gotta hand it to Amy the Judge: The Non collusion mantra is simply a non sequitor. Nailed it.

    Talk about nailing it. Everything these yahoos say regarding collusion is a non sequitor with the Big Boy leading the charge.

  10. gedouttahear says:

    ABJ acted with great discretion. A stark contrast to Ellis’ great abuse of his discretion. I think Paulie will be in the can past even his age of recidivism. And now there will be the safety net of the NY prosecution. As the song goes, “I LOVE NEW YORK!”

    • rip says:

      And I doubt Paulie’s marketability will be very high after even a few months of prison/pen time. Wonder if he will get a good Social Security benefit from the US. No doubt his USSR pension would be hard to collect.

    • Silence Hand says:

      Yep. Some folks need calming down about this; the sentence is within reason, and commensurate with her sentencing statement.

      • ivaluemyprivacy says:

        I’ve read, but don’t remember where, that Ellis generally tries to err on the more lenient side in sentencing and is critical of mandatory mins and severe sentencing guidelines.

        like Marcy, I think the focus really should be on reforming those rather than getting in a Huff about what manafort received.

        • P J Evans says:

          Ellis doesn’t like mandatory minimum sentences – but he loves giving them to white-collar criminals. If you’re not one, you’ll get a much longer sentence than the minimum.

  11. Silence Hand says:

    ABJ’s sentencing seemed careful, within guidelines, and well clear of any reasonable foul lines. I was all set to cheer it on teh twitters, but seeing a massive surge of AAARRRRRRGH!!!!1!!!1! , I thought better of it. Holy smokes, a goodly number of us want vengeance. Okay then.

    I agree with MW that by playing it totally square, ABJ makes it more likely that the sentence will actually not be commuted or pardoned away (particularly with the new indictments). In that vein, maybe a little ARGH! from people who wanted Paulie tarred and feathered isn’t such a bad thing.

    • Sambucus says:

      It’s not so much the sentence. For me, it’s that you won’t get the same sentence if you are not a rich white guy.

      • bmaz says:

        Actually, you probably would. I know it is easy to say such things, but this is a fairly typical sentence.

      • Eureka says:

        (I get ampliative ear worms from punaise)

        My gout’s on fire, Elmira
        … oom poppa ow ow


        Green Haven is the place to be—

    • roberts robot double says:

      And then there’s the fantastic “Honesty”:

      Honesty is such a lonely word,
      everyone is so untrue.
      Honesty is hardly ever heard,
      and mostly what I need from you.

      And “Big Shot” certainly fits ol’ Paulie today ;-)

  12. Reader 21 says:

    Wonderful write up—thank you EW! I can’t help but think of the Ukrainian people, who’ve suffered so much at the hands of Manafort’s mobbed-up masters all these years. May they taste a small bit of solace from ABJ’s evenhanded and temperate justice.

    • BobCon says:

      And Angola and Kenya and the Congo and the Phillipines.

      Manafort, along with Stone and Charles Black, were monsters. They and their enablers in the GOP cared only if the client punched a ticket saying they were anti-communist, and then it was off to the races. Nothing was too low for them — not torture, not murder, not the enslavement and rape of children.

      The sickness of the DC establishment rests in large part in its willingness, even eagerness, to excuse the malignant behavior of Manafort, Stone, Podesta, Hill and Knowlton, and dirtbags like Elliot Abrams. As long as they are safe within Ward 3, Bethesda and McLean, everything these people do remains an abstraction to be argued away as a point here or there on some arbitrary and hastily drawn sliding scale of utilitarianism.

      Manafort getting justice shouldn’t be seen as a matter of cheap words and clenched pique, as Ellis clearly did, and I’m glad one judge didn’t sink into sneering narcissism.

    • Anne says:

      Kyiv post put the NYTimes article on their front page. Couldn’t find any editorial comments.
      www dot kyivpost dot com

  13. Curveball says:

    Judge ABJ packed a lot of stuff into her comments today. The unpacking soon began. My favorite for now was an indirect poke at Judge T.S. Ellis, who last week praised Manafort’s “otherwise blameless life.” Today from Jackson: “The criminal conduct in this case was not an isolated, single incident. A significant portion of his career has been spent gaming the system.”

  14. Badger Robert says:

    The sentencing is due to the fifty years of dirty tricksters not being caught and punished.
    Its been one rolling scandal since Nixon, which has just manifested itself in financial collapses and recurring wars. Maybe its called history.
    However, I wonder about small defects and choices made in the 2016 campaign, which turned to have great consequences. You all would know better than I, but maybe if Ms. Clinton had been a little younger, or a little more charismatic, or the Dems had been more careful about cyber security, would the result have been different?
    The Democratic candidates, in retrospect, seem somewhat casual about security issues, and unsophisticated.
    Former Sec’y Clinton has stated that she was not aware of the pressures on Director Comey, from inside and outside the FBI, to make embarrassing statements about stupid emails.
    I think that both Clinton and Sanders in 2016 can be faulted for not having lost an election. Both had run in relatively safe venues for Democrats, where elections were in the main clean. There may have been some reluctance to deal with out and out cheating.
    Convicting and sentencing Manafort is a good thing. But Roger Stone is still out there and he and Bannon are the main architects of this anarchy.

    • roberts robot double says:

      The way I see it, the problem with 99% of Dems is that they’re corporatists through-and-through, and it’s the corps that are destroying the Earth and enslaving its peoples in the process by funnelling the money and efforts of the populace into the 1%.

      Anyone who serves the for-profit corps is going to be a bad person. Our problem is that even Hillary would have been much, much less worse than Trump et al. That doesn’t make her the candidate we *really* needed, however.

      I remember watching SNL’s A. Whitney Brown’s brilliant commentary live that went something like:

      We used to vote for the candidate we liked the best.
      Then we voted against the candidate we disliked the most.
      Now we vote for the candidate we despise the least.

      As Gibson says in Neuromancer, “Truer words were never spoken.”

      • P J Evans says:

        problem with 99% of Dems is that they’re corporatists through-and-through

        [citations fucking needed]

        • roberts robot double says:

          Well, give me a single instance of a Dem who has worked to curb the corps’ power?

          Did I miss something Mr. Obama did? Because I’m pretty sure Clinton didn’t do anything of the sort.

          (Of course, AOC is on the correct path, but I am primarily referring to Presidential candidates here.)

          Maybe you could just name the Dems that don’t take their money.

          Are you suggesting that our deplorable Corporate America is solely the Republicans’ fault?

            • Eureka says:

              It’s nice that you answered, daisyb, but I read “roberts robot double” reply as bad faith trolling, demanding answers from PJ or others (and changing the terms) instead of answering (or even ignoring) re his own assertions.

              • roberts robot double says:

                So correct me, my friend.

                Who doesn’t take their money?

                Who has sponsored legislation?

                Who wants to stem the flood of corporate money into our government?

                Was it not Bernie’s radical stance that had the DNC bury his nomination?

                Even now there are many Dems decrying AOC’s Green New Deal as being too far left. Many Dems are distancing themselves from Ms. Omar.

                The fact is that most Dems really want nothing to do with reforming the system for the simple fact that they are more than comfortable with it exactly how it is, so long as they’re the ones in power. The sad fact is that, for all their corruption, they are *far* better than the Republicans, who are simply vile.

                That is why I voted for the first time in my half-century of life in the mid-terms, for Dems across the board. “Vote for the candidate you despise the least.”

              • bmaz says:

                Oh, I don’t think RRD is trolling here at all. Consideration of corporate money in politics is valid. That said, it is legal, so the better question is whether an individual politician seems overly beholden to it. Just blithely saying all Dems are is silly.

            • roberts robot double says:

              >> Elizabeth Warren

              Perhaps. She seems to have some promise but I seem to remember that she’s not for single-payer. Those health care companies exert a lot of influence. Note that none of them cried about Obamacare as they were still guaranteed their profits.

              Please correct me if I’m wrong.

            • BobCon says:

              Warren was responsible for CFPB, which was a big jump forward for consumer rights with regard to banks, at least until 2017. Heck, Obama supported CFBP and pushed to install strong consumer advocate as director.

              Warren is rejecting high dollar fundraising events, and for that matter 180 Dems have signed a pledge to reject corporate PAC money.

              House Democrats passed HR 1, which is the most comprehensive election financing reform bill to pass any house of Congress in years.

              Obviously by themselves, these actions aren’t going to purge money from politics. But I think it’s easy to see whether they’re serious — look how hard corporations and oligarchs are working to fight them. Anyone who says the Democrats and the GOP are anywhere close isn’t following the money.

              • roberts robot double says:

                Thanks! That is good news, indeed. I love it when my cynicism is proven wrong.

                I also love it when people just have a meaningful conversation instead of a bunch of spiteful animosity ;-)

                Thanks again, my friend.

      • Troutwaxer says:

        Trump vs. Clinton was the result of horrible, systemic, ongoing failures on the part of both parties. It may as well as been Satan vs. Cthulhu. It happens that I voted for Clinton – I’m not stupid and she was obviously the better candidate, but my real feelings about the election were “Hell No!”

    • Tom says:

      Re: the 2016 election … I recall reading at the time (actually, I think it was in TIME), that the FBI, as a law enforcement agency, was essentially conservative and therefore inclined to be pro-Trump. The difficulty for Comey, therefore, was to ensure his investigation of HRC’s emails was scrupulously fair and not prejudiced against her in any way. That made sense to me, which was why it seemed so absolutely ludicrous when Trump & the GOP later started railing about the FBI as being some hotbed of anti-Trump Jacobin radicals.

    • Tom says:

      Perhaps it was that detailed polling data that Manafort gave to the Russians at that August 2016 meeting that helped push Trump over the edge & win the election. Perhaps Manafort realizes now that Trump really didn’t expect–or perhaps even WANT–to win the election. Perhaps the reason Manafort was so determined to conceal the extent of the detailed info he passed on to the Russkis is because he doesn’t want Trump to blame him for the fact that he’s now sitting in the Oval Office and exposed to multiple investigations instead of being a private citizen back in the New York Trump Tower where he’d much rather be. A lot a ‘perhaps’ there, but those are the thoughts that have been circulating in my mind recently.

      • P J Evans says:

        My cynical answer is that if Tr*mp didn’t want the job, he shouldnn’t have run in the first place. (When the answer to “what’s the worst that could happen?” is “you win”, it should be treated as “don’t do this”.)

      • roberts robot double says:

        As a long-time professional software engineer, it is not unlikely that the tipping point was the simple fact that many of our voting machines run Windows (perhaps as old as XP). They are not just insecure, but unsecurable. IIRC, there was a huge discrepency in Wisconsin’s results depending on the district’s use of paper ballots or electronic machines. And GA wiped the hard drive.

        As well, we now know that the Executive branch has been dragging their feet delivering their report on election tampering to Congress.

        Perhaps the better question to ask is, “Would our government *EVER* admit that our voting machines were physically hacked?” In any other presidency I highly doubt it, but in the Age of Trump, his people would have to know that he would be apoplectic if word got out that Hillary actually won.

        But, yeah, the polling data certainly would’ve helped Russia target the swing states so as to keep the results within the realm of statistical possibility, not to mention helping their social media misinformation campaign improve their targeting.

        As to Trump not wanting to win? That’s certainly possible, but the bottom line remains that Putin wants the weakest leader chosen in America and he damn sure got his man, a man eminently corruptible and likely already corrupted by dirty Russian Deutsche Bank money. If Trump didn’t want to be President, then all the better for Russia.

        • Badger Robert says:

          Responses like that are evidence that there is little naivete left about the plunge back into outright cheating, as in the middle of the 19th century.

          • roberts robot double says:

            I don’t know about the 19th Century (I am curious, tho, if you care to share), but the voting machines have been deliberately insecure for a *lot* longer than the past two years. And, of course, with the countrywide gerrymandering, voter roll purges and NC’s fuckery, it would be difficult to argue that the people that run these things are impartially interested in having fair elections.

            The problem is that lying is the easiest thing to do for a truly evil person and subverting the will of the people is nothing less than evil, my friend.

      • Tracy Lynn says:

        @Tom: It seems to be the common wisdom Trump didn’t expect to, nor want to win — but I find it hard to believe he would have wanted to lose: 1. to a Clinton; 2. to especially, Hillary, a woman. Sorry. This was meant to be a reply to @Tom March 13, 2019 at 7:40 pm

        • Tom says:

          Tracy Lynn: I’m pretty sure that Trump didn’t expect to win in 2016. As for not even wanting to win, I admit that’s a problematical position to take. After all, he certainly seems to enjoy being President–at least the ceremonial parts–and using the position to line his own pockets and polish his brand. And how do you run a campaign in which you expect people to work hard for you, but not hard enough to actually get you elected? So I see your point. At the same time, if Trump had lost, he would have been free to carry on with his rallies, cause further division by accusing HRC of stealing the election, criticize the Democratic administration at every turn,and generally be a major distraction. I change my mind about this topic quite regularly and maybe we’ll never know for sure.

          • Tom says:

            I meant to add that, best of all for Trump, if he had lost in 2016 he would have had no need or responsibility to do the work needed to actually follow through on his campaign promises. You might also ask, if Trump didn’t want to be President, why did he file his papers to run in 2020 as soon as he arrived at the White House?

      • CCM says:

        I remember Josh Marshal posting abound how Trump summer of 2016 seemed to have no ground game. Obama 2008 had a huge organization. Turns out Trump subcontracted it out to Putin. Turn out the experience as a real estate developer subbing out work came in handy.

    • JV says:

      One of HRC’s platforms was to overturn Citizen’s United. And I don’t think her being any younger or more charismatic were why Trump won (I don’t think she lost the popular vote).
      And fifty years of dirty tricksters not being caught and punished includes the demonization and ratfucking of Mrs Clinton for all of those years. Most everything people think they “hate” about her came from them.

      • bmaz says:

        “Overturning Citizens United” is for suckers. It would take a Constitutional amendment to really do that. CU was never the real issue (and, frankly, not an improper decision under the First Amendment), the real issue was the decades earlier case of Buckley v. Valeo. People jawing solely about CU are not really informed on where the issue stands. And that included Clinton.

  15. Reader 21 says:

    @ivalue—sure curious where you read that about TS Ellis. Last year he handed down 40 years to a nonviolent, first time offender for dealing meth. Sorry, but what you posted is counter-factual, as they say in DC.

  16. Bay State Librul says:

    Singing the Blues……….

    Is RICO back on the table?
    With the Varsity Blue indictments, is RICO the new normal?
    It works for DOJ.

    • Rick says:

      Garth Brooks definitely needs to be brought in for questioning.

      1. How many friends do you actually have in LOW places?

      2. Who exactly is Chris Gaines?

      3. Have you ever been in the vicinity of a genuine rodeo?

  17. stuffy says:

    It’s disturbing that the notion of pardoning Manafort has been “pre-normalized.” In media report after media report, a Trump pardon of Manafort is spoken of almost as a routine procedural action, without a hint of controversy. Whereas of course it would be a vile affront on justice and the rule of law.

    Trump pardoning Manafort should be at least as unthinkable as GWB’s commutation of Scooter Libby, and Clinton’s pardon of Mark Rich. I wish the media would convey this, rather than succumb to the “Hey, he’s Trump, our standards are rock-bottom” defeatist attitude.

      • Eureka says:

        Maybe they’ll hold the premiere on Pacer.

        (Both a bad joke invoking costly red carpet events and a reference to the possibility he’ll be indicted, as it was said they were awaiting the hard-copy of his book to come out for same.)

  18. Frank Probst says:

    I was wondering how far along NY State (or any other state) was in terms of hitting him with state-level indictments. Now I know. My big concern was that he’d get a pardon, get one of his passports back, and then leave the country. That looks like it’s out of the question now. So a pardon doesn’t help him much. But there’s also the question of the restitution, which is as much $30 million (but might be less from Ellis, for reasons I don’t quite understand) right now. It wouldn’t surprise me if that part of the sentence got commuted, so that whoever is paying his legal bills can be reimbursed.

  19. Rick says:

    Why does nearly everyone misspell non sequitur?

    Life is life and fun is fun, but it’s all so quiet when the goldfish die.

  20. J Barker says:

    I still don’t understand why NY State is so invested in building a pardon-proof case against Manafort. They even filed the charges within minutes of the federal sentencing!

    If Mueller still has a substantial amount of investigating to do– more documents to uncover, more witnesses to interview, and more cooperation deals to be struck– then a Manafort pardon could substantially impede the investigation’s progress. In addition to removing any pressure from Manafort himself, the pardon would send a signal to others: lie, destroy documents, tamper with witnesses, don’t cooperate, or whatever, and there may be a pardon for you at the end of this. So if Mueller’s investigation were still incomplete in substantial ways, I can see how the NY State indictment would be playing an important strategic role.

    On the other hand, if Mueller is virtually finished with his investigation then, well, a Manafort pardon wouldn’t do any damage to the investigation itself. So why is it so important to Mueller and NY State that Manafort be indicted with pardon-proof charges?

    EW says Cy Vance is “grandstanding.” Maybe there’s not much more to NY State’s motivation here than that?

      • ernesto1581 says:

        Jeb Shugerman (Fordham Law) said recently (WhatNext podcast, 3/15/19) that on comparing SDNY indictments of Manafort which shipped Wed 3/13 with Manafort’s federal indictments he found,

        “…nine to twelve of sixteen of the Manhattan DA’s indictments seem either to double-up or seriously overlap…” Mueller’s indictments. Which may bring up the subject of double-jeopardy.

        Summarizing Shugerman’s conversation:

        Did Cy Vance [Jr.] drop the ball here? He had a year to develop SDNY’s backup plan. But what he issued on 3/13 in public doc’s “…raised too many questions still unresolved, twenty-four hours later.” Further, he says, “The indictment is not well written to resolve those concerns.”

        Side bar: there was ample reporting in October 2018 that FBI was investigating a SDNY 2012 investigation of an Ivanka/Don Jr. real estate fraud which was ready to go but quietly disappeared shortly after Kasowitz made a couple sizeable contributions to the Vance campaign.

        “In 2012, Vance met with an attorney for the pair, Marc Kasowitz, who had previously given him $25,000. An additional $32,000 was donated after the office declined to prosecute Ivanka and Trump Jr.”
        (NY Daily News, 10/16/18.)

        (sorry. don’t know how to do that embedded quote thing.)

        Shugerman has an interesting blog here:

  21. oldpaint says:

    I cast my mind back 40 years, to a time when Manafort, Stone and Lee Atwater were Trio Los Dirty Tricksters, young pals with their political lives ahead of them. I wondered what role Atwater would be playing in this mess if he were alive. Trump would not be president, a friend replied. Atwater was loyal to the Bushes. Jeb would have won the nomination. Hmm. Like an earworm, I haven’t been able to get that thought out of my mind.

  22. Eureka says:

    Well, NY was a brief story arc in the reclaiming democracy series. See EW quote tweet and Jed Shugerman’s thread:

    emptywheel: “Shorter Jed THREAD: Cy Vance has had 2 years to get this right and still (failson!) fucked up”

    Jed Shugerman: “CORRECTION THREAD: I think we have a NY double jeopardy problem re: Manafort. Let me first note that I have just spent 2 hours on a train comparing today’s new @manhattanda indictment to the old Mueller indictment. Problem 1: Today’s indictment is badly written and confusing……”

    3/ Today’s @manhattanda indictment is about Manafort defrauding two unnamed lenders, Lender 1 and Lender 2. It seems clear now that Lender 1 in most of today’s counts is Citizens Bank, and that alleged fraud is for the SAME LOAN in the federal conviction.

    10/ You might be saying, “But there were 16 counts today! That’s just one, right?” Nope. At least 9 and probably 12 of those 16 Counts all related to the fraud upon Citizens. Only Counts 12, 13, 14, 15 are against Lender #2, and they are more minor charges.

    “15/ You might be wondering about NY changing this double jeopardy law soon to fix the “pardon loophole.” No way this applies retroactively to Manafort. Ex post facto law. See Supreme Court case Stogner v. California. Cy Vance has some explaining to do.”

    • BobCon says:

      For what it’s worth, this former prosecutor seems to think there is much less of a NY double jeopardy issue:

      I am, of course, in no position to argue either way. I wouldn’t assume, however, that this is necessarily the end of what NY State could do and that they don’t have options to find other ways to charge Manafort.

      • bmaz says:

        Eh, there is a real double jeopardy issue. Even the prickly Alonso admitted that. How does it play out? No one knows yet, and it could play out in NY courts, and after that, federal courts. In short, it could take forever. The issue is not federal in the first instance because of the separate sovereign doctrine (although that may change when the decision in Gamble v. US is issued). Currently NY has its own double jeopardy prohibition that is problematic. There are forces in the NY legislature trying to change that, and Vance jumped them. We shall see how it all plays out, but I am not sure that Cy Vance’s move yesterday was much more than a cynical PR stunt.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Coming from Vance Jr, the odds that it was a cynical PR stunt heavily outweigh that he was pursuing any legitimate prosecutorial or other goal. He might even have been trying to launch his prosecution **before** Albany revised NY’s double jeopardy strategy.

          • Areader2019 says:

            I expected to see state insurance charges.

            To get a mortgage, insurance has to be in place. If Manafort lied to the bank get that mortgage, he was also lying to the insurance company.

            Insurance is state regulated and NY state in particular is known as one of the strictest departments (I work in insurance, I have dealt with them in the past).

            So that would be a different vicitim, charged under state laws. Why didn’t Vance go down that path?

            • bmaz says:

              A very good point. Maybe that is more the purview of the state? No clue. But Jed Shugarman is right, it is not a particularly well drafted complaint. It may well be sufficient, we shall see, but it is no work of art.

            • Rayne says:

              Wonder if the state’s insurance commissioner is involved in some way with the decision to investigate and prosecute insurance fraud.

          • bmaz says:

            Yeah Earl, those are legitimate concerns. I do not know, but get suspicious of anything Vance is personally involved in as opposed to line level.

  23. Colonel Alexsay Potemkin says:

    People could have always done a google search on Paul Manafort to see who he was working for, since he gave plenty of interviews billing himself as a consultant for the Ukraine government. I know most people would prefer to look up the FARA database rather than use google, but just as a plea in mitigation….

    Any thoughts on the mystery organisation?

    All I have is “Country A”, assuming that there is consistent designation across Mueller’s filings, presumably means Russia rather than a gulf state.

    VTB is state owned and had a US office – or did until September last year. I am not sure if the $50000 a day fine will devolve on to the new owners of the American former subsidiary or if it will be a nominal fine placed on a Moscow corporation banned from doing business in the US.

    But presumably it would relate to the FBI/Felix Sater incitement of the Moscow Trump Tower project.

  24. Shaun Mullen says:

    Let’s not lose sight of the fact that Wednesday was a rare good day in the Russia scandal.

    A rare good day is not when yet another tentacle in this vast and multifarious outrage with its Dostoevsky-esque cast of deplorables is revealed. That actually is a bad day because of the probability that nothing will come of the revelation, and it will get tossed like so many discarded newspapers while the next revelation will get tossed like . . .

    If you think of the Russia scandal in terms of a deck of playing cards with Trump as the ace of spades and Papadopoulos as the two of clubs, then Wednesday was a rare good day. This is because a pretty important card — we’ll call Manafort the king of spades in the spirit of my little exercise — was taken off the table. It also was a rare good day because, in addition to being sentenced to 7½ years in a federal slammer, that Manhattan grand jury returned a 16-count indictment against Paulie. Even if Trump pardons him on the federal rap, Trump would not be able to pardon him on the state charges if he is found guilty.

    Even when we consider other cards taken off the table because of plea agreements — we’ll call Michael Cohen the king of hearts, Mike Flynn the king of diamonds and Rick Gates the jack of spades — that still leaves 48 cards.

    Beyond sobering. But let’s still celebrate Wednesday and ABJ’s simple but profound insight at Manafort’s sentencing — “If the people don’t have the facts, democracy can’t work.” I thank Marcy and her crew of Intrepids for playing a huge part in making that so.

  25. pseudonymous in nc says:

    The snippet that all of Mueller’s prosecutors showed up for the DC sentencing feels like confirmation that they really wanted to see him sent on his way.

    And yet we still don’t know what Paulie thinks he is hiding — the stuff beyond the redactions, not just the stuff behind them — and whether it will remain hidden.

  26. earlofhuntingdon says:

    I think the odds are stellar that Paulie continues to hide a boatload of contraband acts for Trump, himself, and his other former clients.

    Paulie worked for the most violent, corrupt regimes on the planet. He helped them corrupt their governments and bilk billions from their fellow citizens. (Trump must have thought he hit the jackpot when Paulie asked to work for **him** for free.) Paulie walked off with many tens of millions for himself. You can’t do that for decades and not have a dead man’s chest full of secrets that would appall Pandora.

  27. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Vanity Fair’s profile of Beto O’Rourke [] has him on a cover photo with his black Lab, in denims, on an open high desert road, arms akimbo. It reminds me of the campaign poster that made Obama look like FDR in the back of his limo, cigarette holder at the ready, chin jutting, aglow with energy.

    I can see why the MSM is aflutter, now that it can fawn over a charismatic new horse in the race. But progressives and America have a lot of work to do to recover and move beyond the mess that Trump, McConnell and their neoliberal patrons have made. Looking forward, not back will not get us there. It will not undo massive damage or revive the loss of faith in community and government. Nor will avoiding confrontation so as not to distract from one’s middle-of-the-road agenda.

    We have a marathon to run, not a short flat race. Experience and grit will help us get there more than a great smile.

    • JamesJoyce says:


      The rise of a corporate aristocracy in control of
      media and political parties is the evolutionary track.

      The concept of a representative government responsive to the needs of the governed is increasingly dead.

      Money being speech…

      The golden calf being the post WWII middle class has been pilfered and gutted by the monied interests.

      Imposed societal
      debtor servitude precluding investment in basic needs of a society permits Smith’s invisible capitalistic hand to pilfer the middle class from energy to transportation. The cost of a college education makes one ponder the reality of a caste system, when the wealthy purchase in advance educations at prestigious schools as some purchased salvation?

      Meritless and bought?

      The historical piles of pig’s dung are abundant.

      The late John Dingall warned of the economic collapse post 911. That was after the S and L bailout.

      Slaveowners past all the risk on to society while a Senate full of Elites did squat..

      Then came Thaddeus. He was progressive and radical.

      Human nature does not change, only the cottin-gins change.

      Figuring we can access history at about light speed we should be able to aviod repetitive face plants in pig’s dung.

      It is proving difficult for some follks in the year 2010 as it was impossible for some in 1857.

      My now retired congressman once said progress moves at a “glacial pace” when pitted against the monied interests.

      That was before the advent of the WWW , Tweets but most certainly after Gutenberg’s printing press and Luther.

      It is a never ending battle between enlightenment and blindfolded fear.

      Fear works…

      Take a drunks booze away and you will see “fear” all over his face.

    • Tom says:

      O’Rourke also has the appeal of a guileless Jimmy Stewart “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” type of politician.

      • Greenhouse says:

        Yes, but “I want to be in it” really doesn’t make it with me. I mean what is this guy’s policy position on Green New Deal or Medicare for All beyond vague platitudes. Name one signature proposal of his. I sure don’t see it, certainly not like Warren, AOC, Sanders. Definitely nothing listed on his campaign website.

  28. Mark Ospeck says:

    >She came to the US from Ukraine in the wake of Yanukovych’s ouster. When I told her I was talking about the >Manafort the first time I met her, she expressed her hope that he would pay a price, here, for what he helped >Yanukovych do to her country

    yea, revenge-wise, ABJ sentence and subsequent NY prosecutors indict was satisfying.
    I do feel great about Paulie the Rug getting his ride to 437 River street.

    But still conflicted logic-wise, because this is simply a US court sentence about a man without a country.
    Physicists are trained to think about collective modes and resulting complex phenomena.
    In this case, there appears to be this now continual re-fracturing, and then regluing, going on between countries and their own unique nationals (NYC is a great microcosm of the phenom).

    What about Navalny and the Russian free press? Yea, there is one. But, if you’re not high profile and are too good then a piano falls on you or you stumble out of a 5th story window.
    Not knocking US free press, nor the connect-the-dotters like Marcy and Rachel,
    but the Russian “free” press is about ten thousand times braver.
    Why is it intrinsic that we Americans are so much better than Russians? Other than for good luck, I mean?
    How do we fix ourselves if we don’t stand up and go after the criminal syndicate headed by Putin,
    now masquerading as a country, and standing on the Russian people’s neck?
    imo they are just as good as we.

    Yevgraf: Tonya – can you play the balalaika?
    David: [her boyfriend] Can she play?! She’s an artist!
    Yevgraf: And who taught you?
    David: No-one taught her!
    Yevgraf: Ah… then it’s a gift.

  29. The Old Redneck says:

    Manafort will try to defend the state charges by claiming double jeopardy. I haven’t tried to analyze that, but I’ll be interested to see how the NY prosecutors allege something which doesn’t overlap with the stuff for which he’s already been sentenced.
    And BTW, did not occur to Trump that this could happen? Did he really think he could make it all go away if Manafort stuck with the omerta?

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