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NEW LEADS On MANAFORT CASE, Prosecutors RECOMMENDS STRONG SENTENCING

by | Feb 23, 2019 | Breaking News, Business, Crime, Current Events, Government, News, Politics | 0 comments

 

Prosecutors from special counsel Robert Mueller’s office wrote in a sentencing memo filed Friday for Paul Manafort that the former Trump campaign chairman’s years of criminality were “bold” and continued even when and after he served as Donald Trump’s campaign chair in the 2016 election.

The memo was made public Saturday with some redactions, and prosecutors asked Judge Amy Berman Jackson to make sure the now-jailed 69-year-old may never walk free again.

Manafort pleaded guilty in September to conspiracy against the US and conspiracy witness tampering. At the time of his plea, Manafort also admitted to a litany of money laundering and foreign lobbying crimes that encompassed his work for Ukrainian politicians and other clients over several years.

The prosecutors specifically note that they don’t believe Manafort accepted responsibility for his crimes, and there’s no reason his agreement to plead guilty and cooperate should help him at sentencing. Even after he broke the plea deal, there was some question about whether Manafort had accepted responsibility in the eyes of the court and the prosecutors because of his admissions to so many crimes.

The special counsel’s office wrote that “Manafort’s conduct after he pleaded guilty is pertinent to sentencing. It reflects a hardened adherence to committing crimes and lack of remorse.”

The prosecutors did not give a specific amount of time for which they’d like Berman Jackson to sentence Manafort to prison, though they reminded her that she can impose a sentence that runs in addition to the time Manafort gets from another federal judge in Virginia for financial fraud.

In the nearly two years that the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, has been investigating whether there was collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign, few figures seem to have offered more tantalizing leads than Konstantin V. Kilimnik.

A diminutive, multilingual political operative who was born in Ukraine while it was still part of the Soviet Union, Mr. Kilimnik has continued to attract intense interest from prosecutors for his interactions with his longtime boss and mentor, Paul Manafort, and his suspected ties to Russian intelligence, even as Mr. Mueller prepares to wrap up his investigation.

The full story of what Mr. Mueller has found about cooperation between the Trump campaign and Russia during the 2016 presidential election is not known. But Mr. Kilimnik pops up repeatedly as a possible connection, with ties to both sides that are as enigmatic as they are deep.

And his dealings with Mr. Manafort, who in 2016 served as Donald J. Trump’s campaign chairman, encompass two of the most intriguing elements of the special counsel’s inquiry to surface publicly: the sharing of polling data with Mr. Kilimnik, and the work he and Mr. Manafort did on behalf of Kremlin-aligned Ukrainian interests that were pushing plans that could have eased economic sanctions imposed on Russia by the United States and its allies.

Dozens of interviews, court filings and other documents show Mr. Kilimnik to be an operator who moved easily between Russian, Ukrainian and American patrons, playing one off the other while leaving a jumble of conflicting suspicions in his wake. The effort to disentangle the mysteries surrounding him seems likely to leave questions even after the conclusion of the special counsel’s work.

To American diplomats in Washington and Kiev, he has been a well-known character for nearly a decade, developing a reputation as a broker of valuable information like the alliances of Ukraine’s oligarchs and the country’s handling of foreign investment and sensitive criminal cases.

He traveled freely to the United States, and on a trip in May 2016 met senior State Department officials for drinks at the Off the Record bar in the basement of the Hay-Adams hotel across from the White House. Later that year, he visited with the new United States ambassador to Ukraine in Kiev.

But in a federal court in Washington, Mr. Mueller’s prosecutors have repeatedly portrayed Mr. Kilimnik as something potentially more nefarious: “a former Russian intelligence officer” who “has ties to a Russian intelligence service and had such ties in 2016.”

And around the same time that he was passing through Washington nearly three years ago — just as Mr. Trump was clinching the Republican presidential nomination — he first received polling data about the 2016 election from two top Trump campaign officials, Mr. Manafort and Rick Gates, as Russia was beginning a social media operation intended to help Mr. Trump’s campaign.

By early 2017, a senior F.B.I. official was lamenting that the bureau had botched an opportunity to question Mr. Kilimnik while he was in Washington for Mr. Trump’s inaugural.

Prosecutors have also scrutinized the effort by Mr. Manafort and Mr. Kilimnik to drum up political consulting business with Kremlin-aligned political figures in Ukraine and Russia who were pushing plans to end the simmering conflict between the countries.

Those so-called peace plans could have resulted in the easing of sanctions imposed on Russia by the United States — a policy shift to which Mr. Trump had signaled an openness during the campaign and one that would have been a major foreign policy victory for the Kremlin.

The prosecutors did not give a specific amount of time for which they’d like Berman Jackson to sentence Manafort to prison, though they reminded her that she can impose a sentence that runs in addition to the time Manafort gets from another federal judge in Virginia for financial fraud.

He’ll be sentenced in Virginia first, and prosecutors have told that judge he should face up to 25 years in prison. He will only be sentenced for two crimes in the DC District Court, which together are capped at 10 years. However, prosecutors have also outlined a host of other crimes for which he is not charged — including perjury after he pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate last September. They suggest he may be able to face a sentence in DC above the cap of 10 years.

In the redacted sentencing document released Saturday, prosecutors documented the range of people Manafort deceived, including “Members of Congress, and members of the executive branch of the United States government” with his illegal lobbying.

The sentencing memorandum is the last major requisite court filing in Mueller’s longest running case, a sprawling prosecution of Manafort that led investigators to gather exhaustive information about his hidden Cypriot bank accounts, Ukrainian political efforts in Europe and the US, and into Manafort’s time on the 2016 presidential campaign.

The prosecutors did not reveal on Saturday new information about Manafort’s activities in 2016 and later, which prosecutors say have become a focus of Mueller’s inquiry into Russian influence and the Trump campaign.

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