First-ballot hall-of-fame criminal Paul Manafort has been indicted yet again. On Wednesday morning, the Manhattan district attorney’s office charged President Trump’s former campaign manager with 16 state felonies, including mortgage fraud, falsifying business records and more. The indictment was announced almost immediately after Judge Amy Berman Jackson sentenced Manafort to more than six years in prison for a variety of federal crimes. Combined with the 47-month sentence handed down last week by Judge T.S. Ellis for a separate variety of federal crimes, Manafort stands to serve nearly eight years total in federal prison.
NEW: The New York District Attorney's office has indicted Paul Manafort on 16 counts, including:
-mortgage fraud (3 counts)
-attempted mortgage fraud (1 count)
-conspiracy (3 counts)
-falsifying business records (8 counts)
-scheme to defraud (1 count).https://t.co/yUK8HC76Ad pic.twitter.com/jtO2p4YDgL
— Caroline Orr (@RVAwonk) March 13, 2019
“No one is beyond the law in New York,” said Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance. “Following an investigation commenced by our office in March 2017, a Manhattan grand jury has charged Mr. Manafort with state criminal violations which strike at the heart of New York’s sovereign interests, including the integrity of our residential mortgage market.”
The timing of the DA’s indictment appears to indicate an effort to ensure Manafort serves time in prison even if he is pardoned by the president. Trump only has the power to clear people of federal crimes, and would be unable to interfere with a prison sentence resulting from the state charges brought by the DA’s office.
The president has repeatedly praised Manafort on Twitter, while railing against the Justice Department. “I feel very badly for Paul Manafort and his wonderful family,” Trump wrote after Manafort was found guilty on a number of federal charges last August. “‘Justice’ took a 12 year old tax case, among other things, applied tremendous pressure on him and, unlike Michael Cohen, he refused to ‘break’ – make up stories in order to get a ‘deal.’ Such respect for a brave man!”
After Manafort was sentenced by Judge Ellis last week, the president falsely tweeted that Ellis and Manafort’s lawyer “stated loudly and for the world to hear” that Trump didn’t collude with Russia. (Ellis only said that collusion did not factor into Manafort’s sentence.) On Wednesday, Manafort’s lawyer again claimed there was “no collusion,” which, again, was not relevant to the charges for which Manafort was sentenced.
Manafort’s lawyer came out and just said “no collusion” which is wild because the Judge specifically said no collusion had nothing to do with that case and that Mueller is still looking into collusion.
Could it be any clearer, Manafort’s folks are appealing for a pardon?
— Katy Tur (@KatyTurNBC) March 13, 2019
Kevin Downing, Paul Manafort's attorney with an audience of one, being disingenuous saying Judge Jackson said there was "no collusion."
Protestors rightly heckle and say "LIAR, THAT'S NOT WHAT SHE SAID!" pic.twitter.com/ocS3LSkuVz
— Erick Fernandez (@ErickFernandez) March 13, 2019
Reports have indicated that Trump has considered the idea of pardoning Manafort in the past, and the White House has since refused to take the prospect off the table. During a rare question-and-answer session with reporters on Tuesday, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said that Trump will “make his decision” about whether to pardon Manafort “when he’s ready.”
Speaking to reporters Wednesday, the president said he feels “very badly” for his former campaign manager. As to the idea of a pardon, Trump said, “I have not even given it any thought as of this moment.”