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The sentencing hearing was a milestone in special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into possible coordination between the Trump campaign and Russian Federation in the 2016 election campaign.

Manafort's lawyers have noted that the charges that are sending him to prison are related to his work as an worldwide political consultant and lobbyist, not his time with the Trump campaign. The Mueller indictment states that Manafort got the apartment for $2.85 million after transferring funds from a company in Cyprus, then falsely claimed it was a second home for his daughter and son-in-law, and used it as an Airbnb rental.

"No one is beyond the law in New York", Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance said in a statement announcing the indictment. "I thank our prosecutors for their meticulous investigation, which has yielded serious criminal charges for which the defendant has not been held accountable".

That sentence came amid widespread speculation that Trump could pardon Manafort for remaining loyal and not providing any evidence damaging to the president during the two-year Mueller investigation. The sentence followed a scathing assessment by the judge and a prosecutor of Manafort's crimes.

The sentencing hearings for Manafort mark a bookend of sorts for Mueller's investigation as it inches toward a conclusion. He has already served nine months of the sentence.

The charges were filed minutes after Judge Amy Berman Jackson sentenced Manafort to an additional three-and-a-half years in federal prison.

The Atlantic's Natasha Bertrand (an MSNBC contributor) tweeted that Kevin Downing, one of Manafort's lawyers, "is saying that Judge ABJ found that there was no evidence of Russian Federation collusion" and that protestors responded, "That's not what she said". Rick Gates, of course, has been a key cooperator for the special counsel's office.

Mueller is preparing to submit to US Attorney General William Barr a report on his investigation into whether Trump's campaign conspired with Russian Federation and whether Trump has unlawfully sought to obstruct the probe.

Trump recently slammed New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) and the state at large after New York Attorney General Letitia James (D) subpoenaed the Trump Organization's records as part of an investigation into the president's family business. "I tell you, that's the worst thing you can do at a sentencing, is lie to a judge during the sentencing", said Napolitano, referring to Napolitano's reaction to being exposed for witness tampering. When Ellis presided over Manafort's trial during the Summer of 2018, he often expressed strong skepticism over the charges Manafort was facing. After the verdict, Trump said he hadn't considered the issue but added, "I do feel badly for Paul Manafort".

While Trump could pardon Manafort for his federal crimes, he does not have the authority to issue pardons in state cases.


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