More than a year after special counsel Robert Mueller secured an 18-count indictment against Paul Manafort on charges related to tax and bank fraud, the former campaign chairman for President Donald Trump will face the first of his two sentencing hearings on Thursday afternoon.
A Virginia-based jury found Manafort, 69, guilty on eight of those counts after a lengthy trial in August, setting the stage for a hefty prison term.
In court documents filed last month, the special counsel’s office agreed with the findings of an independent pre-sentence report, which calculated that Manafort’s crimes called for a prison sentence of up to 25 years.
But Manafort’s future ultimately lies in the hands of U.S. District Court Judge T.S. Ellis, who will level a sentence Thursday afternoon after consulting a flurry of court documents filed in recent weeks by both Mueller’s office and Manafort’s defense team.
The special counsel is seeking a sentence that “reflects the seriousness of these crimes,” which prosecutors characterized as “longstanding and bold,” according to court documents filed last month. In response, defense counsel for Manafort sought a term “substantially below” sentencing guidelines, citing their client’s age and health.
Regardless of Ellis’ decision, Manafort’s legal travails are far from over. He faces another sentencing next week in Washington. He pleaded guilty to those additional charges from the special counsel in September.
Manafort, a longtime lobbyist and Republican political operative, was Trump’s campaign chairman from May to August 2016.
If sentenced to prison, Manafort’s former boss could be his saving grace. In November, Trump told the New York Post that though a pardon for Manafort had never been discussed, he “wouldn’t take it off the table.”