Legal experts and attorneys were exasperated over the 47-month sentence for Paul Manafort, the former chairman of Donald Trump’s campaign, who was found guilty for cheating on his taxes and bank fraud — far less than the roughly 20-year sentencing guidelines.
The news also came to a shock for someone pretty familiar with prominent Washington scandals.
“Yup,” Monica Lewinsky said on Twitter, with a hint of resignation. “I had been threatened w/ 27 years for filing a false affidavit + other actions trying desperately to keep an affair private.”
Lewinsky commiserated with National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden, who noted Chelsea Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison for leaking classified information to WikiLeaks and still faces legal jeopardy even after her sentence was commuted after seven years by President Barack Obama.
David H. Petraeus, the former Army general and CIA director, escaped jail time entirely after he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of mishandling classified material with his biographer, Snowden added.
President Bill Clinton’s affair with Lewinsky, and his lies to the grand jury that led to impeachment proceedings, nearly brought down his presidency.
Clinton had testified that information in an affidavit from Lewinsky denying they had a sexual relationship was “absolutely true,” Peter Baker reported for The Post in October 1998. “But Lewinsky testified before independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr’s grand jury that the affidavit she signed Jan. 7 was false and that she performed oral sex on Clinton in the White House on 10 occasions,” Baker reported. “Starr accused Clinton of perjury and obstruction of justice for attesting to the affidavit’s accuracy and allowing it to be introduced as evidence.”
In her tweet, Lewinsky wrote that she filed the false affidavit and took “other actions” to avoid the affair from becoming a public spectacle.
It was not clear who threatened Lewinsky with jail time over the affidavit. The Post was unable to immediately reach her on Friday morning.
Manafort’s trial documented his career as an international lobbyist whose profligate spending habits were part of the evidence showing he’d cheated the Internal Revenue Service out of $6 million by hiding $16 million in income.
But his sentence of a touch under four years led legal experts to blast the relative leniency he received in federal court.
Scott Hechinger, a senior staff attorney at Brooklyn Defender Services, an organization that provides legal representation to defendants who cannot afford it, used one of his recent clients, who was offered a 36- to 72-month sentence, as an example. The crime? Stealing $100 worth of quarters from a residential laundry room.
The treatment of Manafort was another example of white-collar criminals eluding harsh penalties, wrote Louis Laverone, an international financial crimes attorney.
Laverone cited the case of one Turkish banker who was charged with participating in a multibillion-dollar scheme, violating U.S. economic sanctions. In that case, guidelines called for a possible 105-year sentence. The banker got 32 months.
Reis Thebault, Michael Brice-Saddler, Rachel Weiner, Lynh Bui, Justin Jouvenal and Devlin Barrett contributed to this report.