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D.C. Court of Appeals disbars Paul Manafort following felony convictions

Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort departs U.S. District Court in Washington in November 2017. (Bill O’Leary/The Washington Post)

The D.C. Court of Appeals on Thursday disbarred Paul Manafort, President Trump’s former campaign chairman, because Manafort has been convicted of obstruction of justice and conspiracy.

Manafort, who was admitted to the D.C. bar in 1979, pleaded guilty to the charges last year in U.S. District Court in Washington. He was also convicted in Alexandria federal court of eight bank- and tax-fraud charges stemming from millions he made in Ukraine and his attempts to get loans when that funding dried up. Manafort, 70, was sentenced to 7½ years in prison for both convictions.

The D.C. bar’s decision came after the court’s disciplinary committee issued a report in March that recommended Manafort be disbarred because of crimes “involving moral turpitude.”

In a four-page decision Thursday, the court ruled that because of Manafort’s convictions, “the mandatory sanction imposed by statute is to disbar him from the practice of law.”

Manafort’s disbarment was expected; lawyers who are convicted of a felony are subject to losing their law license in the jurisdiction in which they practiced.

According to the report, the court in January suspended Manafort and ordered the disciplinary counsel to investigate Manafort’s offenses. In February, the counsel reported that Manafort failed to file a response to its findings.

Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III investigated whether Trump tampered with the jury in Manafort’s Alexandria trial by repeatedly proclaiming him to be innocent and unfairly prosecuted. But Mueller concluded Trump may also have “genuinely felt sorry for Manafort” or sought to sway public opinion rather than the jury.

“The President’s comments also could have been intended to continue sending a message to Manafort that a pardon was possible,” the Mueller report said.

According to the Mueller report, Manafort attempted to use the Trump campaign to revive his consulting career in Eastern Europe, passing internal polling data to Ukrainian oligarchs and being in turn pressed to support a peace plan in Ukraine favorable to Russia. He lied about the polling and the peace plan, Mueller said.

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