New York just charged Paul Manafort with 16 crimes, and Trump can’t pardon him if he’s convicted
|National Post 13 Mar 2019 at 10:42|
Paul J. Manafort, President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman, has been charged in New York with mortgage fraud and more than a dozen other state felonies, the Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., said Wednesday, an effort to ensure he will still face prison time if Trump pardons him for his federal crimes.
The president has broad power to issue pardons for federal crimes, but has no such authority in state cases.
While Trump has not said he intends to pardon his former campaign chairman, he has often spoken of his power to pardon and has defended Manafort on a number of occasions, calling him a “brave man.”
The new state charges against Manafort are contained in a 16-count indictment that alleges a yearlong scheme in which he falsified business records to obtain millions of dollars in loans, Vance said in a news release after the federal sentencing.
o one is beyond the law in New York
“No one is beyond the law in New York,” he said, adding that the investigation by the prosecutors in his office had “yielded serious criminal charges for which the defendant has not been held accountable.”
The indictment grew out of an investigation that began in 2017, when the Manhattan prosecutors began examining loans Manafort received from two banks.
Last week, a grand jury hearing evidence in the case voted to charge Manafort with residential mortgage fraud, conspiracy, falsifying business records and other charges. A lawyer for Manafort could not immediately be reached for comment.
Campaign chairman Paul Manafort checks the podium before Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during an event at Trump SoHo Hotel, June 22, 2016 in New York City. Drew Angerer/Getty Images
Earlier this month, Manafort, 69, was sentenced in Virginia to nearly four years in prison on one of his two federal cases, far less time than prosecutors had requested; on Wednesday, he was sentenced in Washington, D.C., to serve an additional 3 1/2 years. He could face up to 25 years in New York state prison if convicted of the most serious charges in the new indictment, which is expected to be announced later on Wednesday.
The loans were also the subject of Mueller’s investigation and were the basis for some of the counts in the federal indictment that led to Manafort’s conviction last year in Virginia. But the Manhattan prosecutors deferred their inquiry in order not to interfere with Mueller’s larger investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.
In recent months, prosecutors in the district attorney’s Economic Crimes Bureau resumed their inquiry and began presenting evidence to the grand jury, several people with knowledge of the matter have said.
The district attorney’s office determined some time ago that it would seek charges whether or not the president pardoned Manafort.
Manafort’s lawyers likely will challenge the new indictment on double jeopardy grounds. New York state law includes stronger protections than those provided by the U.S. Constitution, but prosecutors in Vance’s office have expressed confidence that they would prevail, people with knowledge of the matter said.
In the Virginia case, Manafort, who worked for Trump’s campaign during a critical five months when he became the Republican Party’s presidential nominee in 2016, was convicted in August on eight counts of various financial crimes.
At the trial, Mueller’s prosecutors presented evidence showing that Manafort used foreign accounts to hide millions of dollars he earned from his political consulting work in Ukraine and evade taxes, and lied to banks to obtain millions of dollars in loans.
Prosecutors claim that the associate, Konstantin V. Kilimnik, has ties to Russian intelligence, and have been investigating whether he was involved in a covert attempt to influence the election results.
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Whether or not any laws were broken is not the issue. The standard expected of public officials is not that they should merely avoid committing crimes