Prosecutors working on the special counsel investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election disputed Tuesday that Paul Manafort was charged with fraud only because of his relationship with the president.
The former Trump campaign chairman, who is set to be sentenced for bank and tax crimes in Alexandria federal court Thursday afternoon, made the claim in a court filing last week asking a judge for leniency. In his filing, Manafort emphasized he had spoken freely to the FBI in 2014 about his work for Russia-backed Ukrainian politicians.
“In addition to a lack of remorse, Manafort has his facts wrong: he was being investigated by prosecutors in this district and the Criminal Division of the Department of Justice prior to the May 2017 appointment of the Special Counsel,” prosecutors wrote. “The defendant blames everyone from the Special Counsel’s Office to his Ukrainian clients for his own criminal choices.”
Prosecutors add that Manafort was not forthcoming with earlier investigators.
“At no point in that 2014 FBI interview did Manafort acknowledge the more than 30 overseas accounts that he controlled in three countries, or the more than $55 million that passed through those accounts,” they wrote.
Judge T.S. Ellis III has himself said repeatedly Manafort was only charged because he might be able to offer information on Trump. But the longtime lobbyist was found guilty by a jury in federal court in Virginia of evading taxes and misleading banks, after which he admitted to related conduct in D.C. federal court.
He is set to be sentenced in D.C. on March 13.
Manafort argued he deserves credit for accepting responsibility and working with the special counsel, although a D.C. judge determined he lied to investigators after his plea.
“He neither pled promptly nor provided complete and honest cooperation,” prosecutors wrote Tuesday.
They said “it is Manafort’s own criminal actions that have led to these consequences; it cannot be blamed on the government or a jury’s holding him responsible for his crimes.”
Spencer S. Hsu contributed to this report.