Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort will be sentenced by a federal judge on Thursday on charges that came from special counsel Robert Mueller’s ongoing investigation into Russian election interference.
Manafort was the first person to be indicted by the special counsel in 2017 for a slew of financial crimes. Last August, Manafort appeared in court facing 18 charges and was found guilty on eight counts.
The list of crimes includes five convictions of tax fraud, which prosecutors say Manafort committed from 2010 to 2014 as he failed to pay taxes on millions of dollars he earned in income from Ukrainian political consulting.
He was also found guilty on two counts of bank fraud for lying to secure loans and maintain his luxurious lifestyle. Court filings show that Manafort once bought an ostrich-skin jacket for $15,000 and spent more than $400,000 in just one year on designer clothing. He often paid for the expenses with international wire transfers.
Manafort was also convicted on one charge of hiding foreign bank accounts from federal authorities.
At Manafort’s trial, the jury was unable to convict him on 10 additional bank fraud and foreign banking charges. Federal prosecutors later dropped those counts against Manafort.
The former Trump campaign chairman could spend the rest of his life in prison for the financial crimes, though prosecutors have recommended Manafort serve somewhere between 19 and 25 years for his crimes. They also suggest he pay millions in restitution and fines.
“Manafort was the lead perpetrator and a direct beneficiary of each offense,” the special counsel’s office said in its sentencing memo. “And while some of these offenses are commonly prosecuted, there was nothing ordinary about the millions of dollars involved in the defendant’s crimes, the duration of his criminal conduct, or the sophistication of his schemes.”
Manafort had been a figure in Republican politics for years before joining Trump’s presidential campaign in March 2016. He was quickly promoted to campaign chairman and chief strategist two months later.
But his time at the top of the Trump campaign was short-lived. In August 2016, Manafort was forced to leave the campaign after reports of his controversial business dealings with Ukraine, particularly his lobbying work for the country’s pro-Russia government officials.
Thursday’s sentencing hearing will be the first for Manafort as he faces another set of criminal charges in a separate case in Washington, D.C.
In September 2018, after being found guilty on eight counts, Manafort also pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy against the United States and one count of conspiracy to obstruct justice. Those charges carry a maximum prison sentence of 10 years.
President Trump has supported Manafort throughout his criminal proceedings, telling reporters shortly after Manafort was found guilty that his former campaign chairman is a “good man.”
In November 2018, Trump told The New York Post in an exclusive interview that a potential presidential pardon for Manafort was not “off the table.”