Who is Paul Manafort – and why is his downfall bad news for Donald Trump?

Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort was jailed tonight for 47 months.

It was the first trial sparked by Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into alleged links between the Trump Campaign and the Russian government.

Despite this, the trial concerned other issues and did not attempt to prove collusion with Russia during the 2016 election.

But that’s not to say the President’s lawyers didn’t watch the courtroom very, very closely.

Here’s everything you need to know about Paul Manafort, and how his conviction is bad for Trump.

Who is Paul Manafort?

Paul Manafort worked as Donald Turmp’s campaign manager at a crucial time

Paul Manafort, 69, is a veteran lobbyist, political consultant and a laywer.

He spent a decade working for the Party of Regions in Ukraine – the party of disgraced pro-Russian ex-President Viktor Yanukovych – building a deep contacts book in Ukrainian politics.

In March 2016 he accepted a role on Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign team as campaign manager, a job he held for three months before resigning in August.

What has he been convicted of?

A courtroom sketch of Manafort

Manafort was convicted on eight charges – five of tax fraud, two of bank fraud, and one of failure to file a report of foreign bank and financial accounts.

Prosecutors accused him of hiding millions of dollars from the US government that he earned as a consultant for Ukraine’s former pro-Russia government.

Prosecutors said he lied to banks to secure loans and maintain an opulent lifestyle with luxurious homes, designer suits and even a $15,000 ostrich-skin jacket.

Manafort pleaded not guilty to all the charges.

Sentencing guidelines suggested he would be facing 19 to 24 years in prison.

Is he facing any other sentencing?


Manafort also faces sentencing in a separate case in Washington on March 13 on two conspiracy charges to which he pleaded guilty last September.

While he faces a statutory maximum of 10 years in the Washington case, a judge could stack that on top of whatever prison time is imposed in Virginia.

Last month the judge in the Washington case ruled Manafort had breached his agreement to cooperate with Mueller’s office by lying to prosecutors about three matters pertinent to the Russia probe.

Those included his interactions with a business partner they have said has ties to Russian intelligence.

So if today’s case isn’t about Russian collusion, why is it important?

Manafort’s conviction gives momentum to Mueller

The trial was a test of Mueller’s power.

Manafort’s sentencing gives public momentum to Mueller, who has charged and sent to trial 34 people and three companies over his probe.

It also damages efforts by Trump and his allies to portray the probe as a “witch hunt.” 

Mueller is preparing to submit to U.S. Attorney General William Barr a report on his investigation into whether Trump’s campaign conspired with Russia and whether Trump has unlawfully sought to obstruct the probe.

Trump has denied collusion and obstruction and Russia has denied election interference.

It’s not biting the President now, but it could do so very soon.

What did he say in his defence?

Defence lawyers asked the Virginia judge to sentence Manafort to between 4 and 5 years in prison.

They were expected to tell the judge Manafort was remorseful and that the sentencing guidelines cited by prosecutors called for a prison term disproportionate to the offences he committed.

“The Special Counsel’s attempt to vilify Mr Manafort as a lifelong and irredeemable felon is beyond the pale and grossly overstates the facts before this court,” his lawyers wrote in their sentencing memo.


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