Victor J. Blue—Bloomberg/Getty Images
Attorneys for former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort are seeking leniency, arguing that the 69-year-old should not face the full 10 years that could be handed down to him after he pleaded guilty last year to charges of conspiracy against the United States and conspiracy to obstruct justice.
Manafort faces up to five years for each of the two counts. However, according to NPR, his lawyers are arguing that he committed “garden-variety crimes,” which he has already been punished for, and argued that heavy sentencing is tantamount to a life sentence.
“Manafort has been punished substantially, including the forfeiture of most of his assets,” his attorneys wrote. “In light of his age and health concerns, a significant additional period of incarceration will likely amount to a life sentence for a first time offender.”
These “garden variety crimes” include a slew of charges such as avoiding taxes, lying to the Justice Department, illegal lobbying for Ukrainian interests, as well as witness tampering, as NPR notes.
Manafort’s original plea was part of a deal, in which he vowed to “cooperate fully, truthfully, completely and forthrightly” with the government in the Russia probe, with prosecutors agreeing not to bring any additional charges against him and agreeing to ask for a reduction of sentencing.
However, Special counsel Robert Mueller accused the disgraced aide of lying to the FBI and thus breaching his deal, opening him up to harsher punishments.
Earlier this month, U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia agreed that Manafort did, in fact, break his plea deal.
Meanwhile, his lawyers have emphasized the fact there is no evidence that Manafort was involved in any collusion with Russia, noting that this was rather a “mundane” case regarding someone who failed to properly document his income.
“The Special Counsel’s attempt to portray him as a lifelong and irredeemable felon is beyond the pale and grossly overstates the facts before this Court,” the filing added.
As a result, lawyers pleaded for a sentence that is “significantly below the statutory maximum especially since Mr. Manafort has pled guilty and accepted responsibility for his actions, has been held in protective solitary confinement for almost nine months, and has agreed to forfeit the vast majority of his assets accumulated over a lifetime of work.”
Manafort is also facing up to 24 years in prison in a separate case, after being convicted on tax and bank fraud in Virginia. In light of that sentencing which will come less than a week before his conspiracy sentencing, Manafort’s lawyers are also arguing that he should be able to serve both sentences concurrently.
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