Paul Manafort, who served as U.S. President Donald Trump’s campaign manager for several months in mid-2016, is set to be sentenced Thursday in federal court for tax and bank fraud.
Sentencing guidelines suggest a judge could send Manafort to prison for between 19 and 24 years. For a man who turns 70 on April 1, such a sentence could mean spending the rest of his life behind bars.
Manafort’s lawyers have argued for a lighter punishment, saying he has suffered health problems and has seen his reputation and finances harmed by his high-profile prosecution. Prosecutors countered that the prison time guidelines were appropriate, and that Manafort should also have to pay a fine ranging from $50,000 to $24 million.
A jury convicted Manafort in December on eight felony counts for hiding income from U.S. tax authorities money he earned while working as a lobbyist in Ukraine.
He is due to be sentenced in a second federal case next week on conspiracy and witness tampering charges.
Another figure in Trump’s orbit, former personal attorney Michael Cohen, is scheduled to start a three-year prison term in May for campaign finance violations and lying to Congress.
Cohen testified Wednesday for the fourth time before a congressional panel, answering more questions from lawmakers about his decade serving as Trump’s fixer.
Cohen once said he would “take a bullet” for Trump, but as Cohen has turned against the president, lawmakers are probing his role in helping Trump become the country’s 45th president.
One focus is the combined $280,000 in hush money Cohen paid or arranged to an adult film actress and a Playboy model shortly before the 2016 presidential election to keep them quiet about affairs they allege they had with Trump more than a decade ago.
In addition, lawmakers are investigating Cohen’s role in his admitted lying to Congress two years ago when he testified that Trump’s efforts to build a Moscow skyscraper ended in early 2016. Now Cohen says that talks about a Russian deal actually extended months longer, even as Trump was telling voters he had no Russian business deals.
The U.S. cable news network CNN said Cohen, in behind-closed-doors testimony before the House Intelligence Committee, provided lawmakers with documents showing undisclosed edits to the written statement he planned to give to a congressional panel in 2017 about Trump’s overtures to Russia. He publicly testified last week that a Trump lawyer had made changes to his testimony to a congressional committee, but the attorney rebuffed Cohen’s claim.
Alleged hush money
Last week, Cohen showed lawmakers two $35,000 checks written to him, one signed by Trump and the other by Trump’s oldest son, Donald Trump Jr., and Allen Weisselberg, the chief financial officer of the Trump Organization, the president’s global business empire. Cohen said the checks were partial payment for him making the hush money payments to the two women alleging affairs with Trump. The president has denied the liaisons occurred.
The New York Times said it has seen six of the 11 checks Trump or his trust wrote to Cohen linked to the payoffs to adult film star Stormy Daniels and Playboy magazine centerfold Karen McDougal. The newspaper said that based on the dates on the checks,
Trump wrote them amidst normal business days at the White House as he met with lawmakers or hosted a foreign leader or traveled overseas.
The heads of the House Intelligence, Foreign Affairs and Oversight committees made a joint request to the White House on Tuesday for records concerning any communications Trump had with Russian President Vladimir Putin, expressing concern about allegations Trump worked to conceal details of those interactions.
Separately, the House Judiciary Committee requested documents this week from 81 people or entities linked to Trump as part of what chairman Jerrold Nadler called an “investigation into the alleged corruption, obstruction, and other abuses of power by President Trump, his associates, and members of his administration.”
Trump assailed the investigations as “a big, fat, fishing expedition in search of a crime.
He contended that House Democrats “have gone stone cold CRAZY” and said letters looking for information were sent to “innocent people to harass them.”