Mueller: Paul Manafort should go to jail for a long, long time

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Manafort really thought he deserved special treatment. He got smacked down.

Late last week, former Trump campaign chairman — and convicted felon — Paul Manafort filed his sentencing memorandum. In it, Manafort argued that the court should show him mercy and impose a shorter prison sentence than that recommended by the United States Probation Office. Now, the special counsel has filed a reply memo, and it couldn't be clearer: Manafort deserves no leniency.

The government's memo addresses a few different factors that go into determining whether a defendant deserves a lighter sentence. Among them: Did the defendant accept responsibility for their crimes? And how likely is it that the defendant will re-offend, also known as the potential for recidivism?

Neither of those turned out very well for Manafort.

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Manafort hasn't done a great job accepting responsibility for his crimes. Instead, as the government put it, he "blames everyone from the Special Counsel's Office to his Ukrainian clients for his own criminal choices."

Manafort also asked the court to consider that he originally opened foreign bank accounts because his foreign clients asked him to do so. Fine, says the special counsel's office, but the foreign clients aren't the ones that told Manafort not to report those accounts on his taxes and fail to report millions of dollars in income.

In a genuinely jaw-dropping move, Manafort asked for leniency because he had to forfeit much of his money and property. The special counsel's office had to point out the incredibly obvious: that the money and property can't be said to be Manafort's if he got it via committing crimes.

Manafort's assertion that he presents no risk of recidivism didn't fare much better. And how could it? Manafort literally committed more crimes while he was already under indictment for earlier crimes. That doesn't exactly bode well when you're claiming you won't commit more felonies once you get out of prison.

And then there's the awkward part where Manafort still hasn't paid back $6 million he owes to the Treasury. It's pretty tough to demand the government take it easy on you when you're still sitting on your ill-gotten gains.

Manafort's sentencing is coming up on Thursday, at which point we'll be able to see if the judge decides to stay within the guidelines recommended by the probation office. They've recommended a range from 19 to 24 years. For Manafort, who is 69, there's no way that isn't functionally a life sentence.

Unless, of course, he gets a pardon from his old boss, Donald Trump. If that happens, though, it looks like New York state is waiting in the wings to file state-level charges, and there's nothing Trump can do about that.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.