Posted on February 23 2019
Dear Paul...it’s far too late..
As many of you know the pundits, the court watchers, the news junkies thought we would have access to the Government’s sentencing memo on Friday February 22, 2019 based on the previous Court order. So we sat and waited and refreshed our computer screens. I may or may not have cursed, a lot.
Given the counterproductive twitter drama that occurred yesterday, unfortunately I was a bit distracted. But I did refresh PACER browser and shortly after 11:45PM last night, I pretty much accepted that the highly anticipated sentencing memo would be delayed. This was affirmed by a Minute Order that was uploaded to the docket shortly after 10AM. I naturally assumed that we the public would see the Government’s sentencing memo on Monday February 25, 2019. And then just like that the Judicial gods sent a gift. In doing so this offered me a much needed respite. Accordingly shortly after 2PM today, my phone alerted that there was a new filing on Manafort’s DC docket. And then I took a moment, chugged a Red Bull put my glasses on and proceeded to cracking my knuckles.
Absent an active twitter account you should know that there will likely be a delay in getting information to you. I am sorry for that inconvenience but as the saying goes: “it is what it is”. You can thank the bitter troll group for fraudulently mass reporting my account, yet again. With any hope the substance of future blog entries will outweigh the delay.
Manafort - decades long crime spree
The Government filed a redacted sentencing memo to the public docket, found here. In the absence of a viable twitter account, I am going to do my best to drill down on the 25 page filing.
One thing you should probably know is; a defendant’s prior actions are a mitigating factor. Meaning a Judge can use those factors in consideration of sentencing. If a cooperating witness has fulfilled their “end of” the plea deal the Government will file a 5K1 motion. This informs the Court concerning the substantialness of a defendant’s cooperation. This typically includes a downward spiral (less points). Sentencing can be tricky to understand. One pretty simple way I can explain sentencing guidelines; each offense is assigned a “point” and cumulatively the more points you have the greater your “judgement” will be. Which is why most cooperating witness fully and forthrightly cooperate because the prosecutors use the 5K1 as leverage.
Shortly before Michael Cohen’s “judgement” (ps that’s what occurs when a defendant is sentenced) I walked you through the only viable option I saw for him. It’s known as Rule 35 (b). What you need to know is this is strikingly similar to the 5K1 motion & letter but with one huge distinction. Yes I know it’s confusing. Rule 35(b) motion occurs post sentencing & judgement. Meaning Cohen really messed up, he didn’t fully cooperate with the SDNY. My assumption is Cohen made a terrible miscalculation. He assumed that the Special Counsel’s Office had more juice than the SDNY. As such Cohen faced a iron hammer of justice when the SDNY filed their sentencing memo, conversely the SCO was “yes he assisted”.
As a reminder in the middle of last week (I think on Tuesday or Wednesday) the Judge granted Cohen’s request to delay his surrender date by 60 days. At the time Cohen was previously scheduled to voluntarily surrender to prison on March 6, 2019. Shortly after Cohen filed his motion, the Judge Ordered the surrender date of May 6, 2016. At which point the various chairs of Congressional committees “re-announced” hearing dates for Cohen. Shortly thereafter Cohen was spotted in DC, entering/exiting various Congressional Offices. My understanding based on open source reporting is, Cohen spent both Thursday & Friday behind closed doors with various Congressional staffers, for several hours. If you have ever had the great or unfortunate opportunity to prepared a witness for trial, arbitration or deposition, understand that this endeavor is not a “we are going to prep you over lunch”. The fallacy that attorneys and/or support staff do not spend a significant time prepping their clients is an absolute canard. From personal experience much of the preparation is predicated on the complexity of the case, settlement or Congressional investigations.
Preparing a witness is easily 6-18+ hours of preparation for every two hours of actual testimony. It’s grueling, both physically and emotionally. As it should be. The main goal is to have the client fully prepared for tough questions and potential curve ball questions, as well as badgering questions. In a weird and cathartic way this actually desensitize the client to aggressive questions. Next week’s Congressional hearings should be view as a “mock trial”...specifically in the House of Representatives.
For an easier analogy, perhaps thinking about Cohen’s hearing(s) - the context below, will better assist you on how the hearing should go and what to expect.
House Democrat = Prosecutor
House Republicans = Trump’s Attorneys
Cohen = “cooperating witness”
Cross, Cross Examination & redirect
Again next week’s congressional hearings are not an actual courtroom. However a decent arguement can be made that the hearings are in “the Court of Public Opinion”. Now that the Democrats control the House, expect a substantive hearing. This is underscored by the House Oversight memo from last week. When this memo landed in my inbox, I’ll admit it was straight up catnip. Lest we forget the “official” hearing memo, page 2 is exquisite. Coupled with Trump’s public relations fubar that will be the (not) peace summit 2.0 where Trump once again proves to the global community he has no idea what actual bilat or trilat diplomacy really is.
You do the Crime. You do the time
Now moving on to the Government’s Sentencing Memo regarding Manafort’s DDC Case. One page 1 the following recitation should be read for what it’s intent. This sets forth a pretty damning predicate, that any leniency (remember prior acts) the Judge might consider is wholly without merit. The relevant facts as argued by the Government in both substance and meticulously detailed, highlight actions of Manafort’s egregious decades long flouting of our laws. This should be a sobering reminder that this is WHO Donald Trump selected to be his campaign chairman. Based on previous court filings Manafort was in contact with the Trump Campaign, the Trump transition and the Trump administration. Also you may have forgotten but Rick Gates was in the Trump universe far longer than Manafort. Further most overlook the fact Tom Barrack hired Gates but terminated his employment shortly after the October 2017 indictment.
Manafort presents many aggravating sentencing factors and no warranted mitigating factor...
Manafort committed an array of felonies for over a decade, up through the fall of 2018. Manafort chose repeatedly and knowingly to violate the law— whether the laws proscribed garden-variety crimes such as;
obstruction of justice
and bank fraud, or more esoteric laws that he nevertheless was intimately familiar with, such as the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA). His criminal actions were bold, some of which were committed while under a spotlight due to his work as the campaign chairman and, later, while he was on bail from this Court. emphasis added
Even though Manafort entered in to a plea agreement and subsequently “cooperated” with the government. The September 14, 2018 Statement of Facts, leaves very little ambiguity. You can find on then Justice Department’s Special Counsel’s page, found here
The facts show that Manafort (while in custody) committed a litany of serious crimes. Witness tampering (as the Government correctly argues) under cuts the very core of our Judicial System. Manafort and Kilimnik conspired to change witness testimony. Which should be viewed for what it was: “an overt attempt to evade justice”. What I found particularly interesting, the SCO drew back the curtains just a bit and for the first time we have actually affirmation that part of the SCO’s is in fact related to our Country’s National Security. But we also learn the long list of investigatory entities Manafort lies to. Not the least of which the Grand Jury, Members of Congress and to his own attorneys. The inclusion of “presents a grave risk of recidivism” is the government essentially arguing, Manafort committed crimes while in custody and his likelihood to commit additional crimes should he be released is exponentially high.
See page 2 which reads in part:
“...component of the crimes of conviction and relevant conduct, extended to tax preparers, bookkeepers, banks, the Treasury Department, the Department of Justice National Security Division, the FBI, the Special Counsel’s Office, the grand jury, his own legal counsel, Members of Congress, and members of the executive branch of the United States government.
In sum, upon release from jail, Manafort presents a grave risk of recidivism.
As some of you might recall in the early Spring of 2018, Manafort opted to waive venue, At the time I noted that I was certain this was a defense strategy. By forcing the Government into TWO judicial venues, my assumption was Manafort thought the “divide and conquer” strategy was a gamble worth taking. I think we can all agree that Manafort failed to factor in was the totality of his actions to waive venue. In the EDVA case a jury of Manafort’s peers found him guilty on numerous counts. Granted the Jury was ultimately hung on several counts, it doesn’t negate the Jury’s verdict. Case in point see page 3, as this directly impacts the plausibility and probably that the DC Judge will and can factor in Manafort’s prior acts.
Also I would assume that some in the media will spin the Trump propaganda/disinformation that this has nothing to do with Trump and.or Russia. Understand that is NOT the case, the reason is Manafort’s work in the Ukraine is tied to Russia. Furthermore Manafort committed some crimes while he was working for the Trump Campaign.
Manafort’s two venue strategy essentially blew up, and pages 4-6 aggregate how much of a gamble Manafort took. Meaning now Manafort is a convicted Felon (EDVA), he committed additional crimes after his October 2017 Indictment. Which later resulted in multiple superseding indictments and ultimately in June of 2018 the DDC Judge remanded Manafort. Yet again even while in custody facing multiple superseding indictments, Manafort and Kilimnik committed additional crimes.
The scope of Manafort’s decades long crime spree is stunning and vulgar. We are talking about a man who spent more than a decade committing crimes that ranged from Money Laundering, Loan & Wire Fraud. Lies about his lies. The Government aptly labels Manafort as a hardened criminal. I submit to you that Manafort isn’t just a criminal, he’s a mobbed up thug who acted in manner and means that he was above the law. It never made any sense to me why Manafort would act in such a deleterious manner beyond he already had assurances from Donald Trump that there would be a pardon(s) for Manafort provided he kept his mouth shut. The vvast majority of the Government’s 25 page Filing is a recitation of the crimes.
To fully understand the conniving and sinister conduct by Manafort, the Special Counsel’s Office highlights Manafort’s conduct, specifically demonizing a Senior State Department official during the Obama Administration and then using that smear as leverage when he lobbied members of Congress. That’s some mind bending Caligula nonsense. And granted one could argue but that’s what lobbyists and law firms do all the time. I can personally tell you that is not the truth but Manafort was a creature of the Beltway and the DC Thunderdome full contact sport. The distinction here is Manafort’s actions were premeditated and he was driven by greed. Meaning money talks and ethics walks.
DC & CT Bar bye bye Paul
What some may not have factored in is Paul J Manafort is or more precisely was (past tense) admitted into the DC and CT Bar. As of January 20, 2019 the DC Bar “temporarily suspended” by the DC Bar.
Manafort’s DC Court of Appeals Bar was suspended is on an interim basis. As an officer of the Court upon the conviction of a serious crime in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. Which should trigger (although it’s not automatic) the “Board on Professional Responsibility” to determine a factual funding that Manafort’s crimes rise to the level of:
the crime[s] involve moral turpitude per se, it will recommend disbarment.
If you are curious, my assumption is, the following provisions of D.C. App. R. XI, section 10 are applicable:
SECTION 10 (b) “Serious Crime””
“serious crime" shall include (1) any felony, and (2) any other crime a necessary element of which, as determined by the statutory or common law definition of such crime, involves improper conduct as an attorney, interference with the administration of justice, false swearing, misrepresentation, fraud, willful failure to file income tax returns, deceit, bribery, extortion, misappropriation, theft, or an attempt or a conspiracy or solicitation of another to commit a "serious crime."
You can read the DC Bar status here, also fun fact I didn’t know Kathleen Manafort was admitted in to the DC Bar Rule XI. Disciplinary Proceedings, here. Also fun fact let’s say that Trump does pardon Manafort, the DC Bar can disbarr him based on the underlying facts of the case.
On January 19, 2019 the State of Connecticut Bar update Manafort’s “standing”. Concluding that Manafort notified the CT Bar that he has forfeited his Bar number. You can run a search in the CT Bar Database found here.
HHD-CV-18-6103963-S: The Respondent [Manafort] resigned and waived the right to apply for readmission to the bar at any time in the future. The Respondent does not have clients within the state and does not maintain an IOLTA account, therefore a trustee will not be appointed.
For the record, the warning signs as it relates to Manafort have ALWAYS been there. His reputation in and around the Beltway have been known for many many years. The fact is Manafort built his reputation as a “hired gun” until he was essentially black listed by the Beltway and K street. To which Manafort found employment overseas.
Again I can tell you in the early Spring of 2016 the Beltway was a flutter with: “Trump hired who now...” because I distinctly remember the whispers and exasperation at various social events. A perfect example of why Donald Trump’s decision to listen to his long time friend Tom Barrack who not only advocated for but aggressively championed the hiring Manafort as a “synergistic win-win...look you don’t have to pay him...but you need his muscle to keep the RNC delegates in line”. This July 26, 2016 CBS This Morning interview was the first “red lights” blinking moment
One issue that might get overlooked in the Government’s DDC sentencing memo, they are specifically asking the Court to sentence Manafort “consecutively” versus concurrently. That means the Government is petitioning the DDC Judge to issue a judgement to a term of imprisonment on top of what the EDVA Judgement. It is also worth noting the Government filed multiple exhibits with their sentencing memo, this link will take you to Exhibits A-F essentially Manafort’s various indictments, EDVA trial exhibits, EDVA Jury verdicts and Manafort’s Plea Deal along with other various court filings. Bottom line is the Government is (rightfully so) arguing that Manafort’s decade long crime spree must be met with the proper and just judgement. Not to belabor the point, yes many of the crimes committed pre-dated his role as Donald Trump’s Campaign Chairman but equally important Manafort committed crimes while he was Trump’s campaign chairman, specifically loan fraud and tax evasion. Then of course like most criminals do, Manafort went on to commit a litany of other crimes after his indictments and remand.
Pardon me? No pardon me?
During the February 8, 2019 House Judiciary hearing, then Attorney General Whitaker’s Testimony was fiery and frankly rude on a multitude of occasions. The Congressional Testimony a lot of people overlooked the following exchanges (damn you twitter) so it seems worthwhile to remind you what Whitaker said about Pardons, potential Pardons and whether or not a sitting president could be indicted. Ultimately this will most likely land at the Supreme Court. As you know some on Twitter pivot to but the OLC memos. The fact is nothing our Constitution or CFRs or USC state a sitting president can NOT be indicted.
his exchange with Rep Swawell
and then this crushing exchange with Rep Lieu.
It’s all there in the public record. And if you do not think that Donald Trump who’s continued in act in a lawless manner, what part of Donald Trump is a mobbed up thug is lost on you. The reality is Trump is literally running a criminal enterprise from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Trump and his legal team have repeatedly telegraphed to Manafort et al, that they just need to keep their mouths shut and they will be rewarded with a pardon. I argue that you are not paying attention. You can take this to the bank, if Manafort is arrrogant and stupid enough to accept a pardon then neither one of them have thought this through. Keep in mind that Donald Trump is a transactional criminal mobsters. He has rarely been held accountable for his decades of fraud, scams, money laundering and other untoward actions.
Whereas Manafort’s former business partner, Rick Gates kept up his end of his “plea deal” (found here) and continues to fully and forthrightly cooperate with the Government thus allowing him the semi-limited freedom to travel, provided he seeks permission from the Court, as evident in today’s motion for permission to travel..
And lastly, I am still waiting on the indictments of: Steve Calk, Tom Barrack, Jared Kushner, Donald Jr, Melanie (or Melania) Ivanka, Eric, Keith Davidson, Vin Weber, Tomy Fabrizio, etc...
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