Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign manager, was sentenced to 47 months in prison the other day. And that doesn’t seem right. In sentencing him, Judge Judge T. S. Ellis commented on the “otherwise blameless life” that Manafort has lived.
Franklin Foer of The Atlantic magazine took a quick look at this “blameless” life, observing that Manafort is a guy who has “always acted with impunity.” Foer noted that:
- Manafort lobbied on behalf of the tobacco industry and wangled millions in tax breaks for corporations.
- Manafort helped Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos bolster his image in Washington after he assassinated his primary political opponent.
- Manafort worked to keep arms flowing to the Angolan generalissimo Jonas Savimbi.
- Manafort was kicked out of the lobbying firm he co-founded, accused of inflating his expenses and cutting his partners out of deals.
- Manafort spent a decade as the chief political adviser to a clique of former gangsters in Ukraine.
- Manafort came to adopt the lifestyle and corrupt practices of his Ukrainian clients as his own.
- Manafort produced a public-relations campaign to convince Washington that Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych was acting within his democratic rights and duties when he imprisoned his most compelling rival for power.
- Manafort stood mute as Yanukovych’s police killed 130 protesters in the Maidan.
- Manafort got himself nearly $20 million in debt to a Russian oligarch.
- Manafort tried to use his perch atop the Trump campaign to help salvage his sorry financial situation.
- Manafort installed one of his protégés as the head of the pro-Trump super PAC Rebuilding America. His friend allegedly funneled $125,000 from the super PAC to pay off one of Manafort’s nagging debts.
- Manafort was found guilty of tax evasion on an industrial scale. He kept his cash in Cyprus and wired it home to buy more than $1 million in bespoke clothing.
- Manafort disguised his income as loans so that he could bamboozle banks into lending him money.
- Manafort attempted to phone a potential witness in his trial so that they could align their stories.
- Manafort systematically lied to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s prosecutors, after he promised them his full cooperation.
Needless to say, the life that Manafort has led has hardly been “blameless.” Rather, it’s been scheming and advantageous.
And this is to say nothing about the racial aspects. A lot of commentators compared Manfort’s sentencing with the case of Crystal Gayle, a Texas woman who was sentenced to 5 years in prison after having been found guilty of voter fraud because she was a felon still on probation, and that is an obvious and uncomfortable comparison. But you don’t have to get that dramatic. You can just go to any black or Hispanic low-level drug offender if you want to see disparity in sentencing.