Former Trump campaign chief Paul Manafort to be sentenced, could face life in jail
CGTN

U.S. President Donald Trump's former campaign chief Paul Manafort could spend the rest of his life behind bars after a judge's Thursday sentence for tax crimes and bank fraud.

Facing lifelong sentence

Manafort, who turns 70 in April, was convicted by a Virginia jury in August of five counts of filing false income tax returns, two counts of bank fraud and one count of failing to report a foreign bank account.

Kevin Downing, lead lawyer for Donald Trump's former campaign manager Paul Manafort, walks away after speaking to members of the media outside District Court in Alexandria, Virginia, Tuesday, August 14, 2018. /VCG Photo

Kevin Downing, lead lawyer for Donald Trump's former campaign manager Paul Manafort, walks away after speaking to members of the media outside District Court in Alexandria, Virginia, Tuesday, August 14, 2018. /VCG Photo

Manafort is one of a half dozen former Trump associates and senior aides charged by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who has been investigating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and possible collusion with the Trump campaign.

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The sentencing guidelines for Manafort's crimes call for between 19 and 24 years in prison, but his defense attorneys have urged Judge T.S. Ellis to impose a "substantially" lower jail term.

In a filing with the judge, they said Manafort is "truly remorseful" and is in poor health after spending the past nine months in prison.

They pointed out that Manafort, who suffers from gout, is a first-time offender and said the sentencing guidelines are "clearly disproportionate" for the crimes he committed.

In arguing for a lighter sentence, Manafort's attorneys said the veteran Republican political consultant has been "devastated personally, professionally and financially."

No charges connected to Trump's presidential campaign

Mueller's team issued a rebuttal, stating that Manafort had breached a plea agreement reached with the government and lied repeatedly to investigators.

Manafort is accused of lying about various matters including his contacts with a suspected Russian operative, Konstantin Kilimnik, with whom he reportedly shared polling data about the 2016 presidential election.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller departs after briefing the House Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, June 20, 2017. /VCG Photo

Special Counsel Robert Mueller departs after briefing the House Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, June 20, 2017. /VCG Photo

"The defendant blames everyone from the Special Counsel's Office to his Ukrainian clients for his own criminal choices," prosecutors said.

Most of the tens of millions of dollars Manafort was accused of hiding from the U.S. tax authorities were paid as consulting fees for work he did for Ukrainian politicians between 2004 and 2014.

None of the charges against Manafort are connected to his role in the Trump campaign, which he headed for a couple of months in 2016.

Trump has repeatedly denied any election collusion with Moscow and denounced the probe by Mueller as a "political witch hunt."

Trump has also dangled the possibility of pardons for some of those indicted – including Manafort, who he has praised as a "good man" who has been treated unfairly.

Sentenced individuals over probe

The far-reaching Russia probe has brought charges against individuals including several Trump campaign associates and Russian entities. Some of them have been sentenced.

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Trump under investigation in Mueller probe, lawyer gets 30-day sentence

· Alex van der Zwaan

Van der Zwaan, a Dutch lawyer with ties to former Trump campaign officials, was sentenced to 30 days in jail last April for lying to federal investigators, the first to be sentenced in special counsel Mueller's Russia probe. He was also fined 20,000 U.S. dollars and had two months of supervised release.

Alex van der Zwaan goes through security at the US District Court after arriving for his sentencing in Washington, D.C., April 3, 2018. /Reuters Photo

Alex van der Zwaan goes through security at the US District Court after arriving for his sentencing in Washington, D.C., April 3, 2018. /Reuters Photo

· George Papadopoulos

Papadopoulos, a former Trump campaign aide, was sentenced to 14 days in prison last September for lying to federal investigators during the Russia probe. He was also handed one year of supervised release, 200 hours of community service and a fine of 9,500 U.S. dollars. He is the first former campaign aide to be sentenced in the ongoing Russia probe.

George Papadopoulos, a former aide to President Donald Trump's 2016 presidential campaign who just finished serving his 14-day sentence, speaks at the American Priority conference in Washington D.C., December 8, 2018. /VCG Photo

George Papadopoulos, a former aide to President Donald Trump's 2016 presidential campaign who just finished serving his 14-day sentence, speaks at the American Priority conference in Washington D.C., December 8, 2018. /VCG Photo

Read more:

Ex-Trump lawyer Cohen hands over new documents to Congress

Ex-lawyer Cohen assails 'conman' Trump, gives no direct evidence of collusion

· Michael Cohen

Cohen, Trump's former personal lawyer, was sentenced to a total of three years in prison last December for his role in making illegal hush money payments to women to help Trump's 2016 election campaign and lying to Congress about a proposed Trump Tower project in Russia.

Michael Cohen, former attorney and fixer for President Donald Trump testifies before the House Oversight Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, February 27, 2019. /VCG Photo

Michael Cohen, former attorney and fixer for President Donald Trump testifies before the House Oversight Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, February 27, 2019. /VCG Photo

· Michael Flynn

Flynn, Trump's former national security advisor, was criticized last December for lying to FBI agents in the Russia probe, and the judge delayed sentencing him until Flynn has finished helping prosecutors.

Michael Flynn (C), former White House National Security Advisor, arrives prior to a joint news conference between Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and U.S. President Donald Trump at the White House in Washington, D.C., February 13, 2017. /VCG Photo

Michael Flynn (C), former White House National Security Advisor, arrives prior to a joint news conference between Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and U.S. President Donald Trump at the White House in Washington, D.C., February 13, 2017. /VCG Photo

(Cover: File photo of former U.S. President Donald Trump's campaign manager Paul Manafort. /Reuters Photo)

(With input from agencies)