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- President Donald Trump’s former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, was cleared of 16 state felonies, including mortgage fraud charges, in New York court on Wednesday, the Associated Press reported.
- Manafort, 70, is currently serving a seven-and-a-half year prison sentence after being convicted of financial crimes earlier this year in two federal cases.
- The New York judge determined that the state charges against Manafort overlapped with the federal crimes he was convicted for and thus protected him from being charged at the state level.
- The decision could clear the way for Trump to pardon Manafort, whom the president has repeatedly publicly sympathized with.
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President Donald Trump’s former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, was cleared of 16 state felonies, including mortgage fraud charges, brought by the Manhattan district attorney in New York court on Wednesday, the Associated Press reported.
Manafort, 70, is currently serving a seven-and-a-half year prison sentence after being convicted of financial crimes earlier this year in two federal cases.
The New York judge, Maxwell Wiley, determined that the state charges against Manafort overlapped with the federal crimes he was convicted for – a situation known as double jeopardy – and thus protected him from being charged at the state level.
The district attorney, Cyrus Vance, vowed to appeal the decision on Wednesday.
“We will appeal today’s decision and will continue working to ensure that Mr. Manafort is held accountable for the criminal conduct against the People of New York that is alleged in the indictment,” the DA’s office said in a statement.
The New York ruling could clear the way for Trump to pardon Manafort since the former GOP operative will only have been convicted on federal charges. (The president cannot pardon individuals convicted on state charges).
Trump has frequently publicly sympathized with his former campaign chairman, saying he feels “very badly” about what Manafort and his family went through in the Russia investigation. Last February, Bloomberg News reported that New York state prosecutors were putting together a criminal case against Manafort in the event that Trump pardoned him.
Manafort was hospitalized beginning last Thursday after suffering a heart issue in prison last week and was not present in court on Wednesday.
The 16-count indictment in New York stemmed from an investigation that state prosecutors began in 2017, when they started examining loans that Manafort received from two banks. Prosecutors alleged Manafort engaged in the yearlong fraud scheme in which he and others falsified business records to illegally obtain millions of dollars.
He was charged with mortgage fraud, conspiracy, falsifying business records, and scheme to defraud as a result of that investigation.
A grand jury first started hearing evidence in the case in March and ultimately voted to charge Manafort.
A week earlier, Manafort was sentenced to 47 months in prison in the first of two cases against him in the Russia probe. And the day New York’s indictment against Manafort was unsealed, US District Judge Amy Berman Jackson sentenced Manafort to an additional 43 months in the second of the two cases.
The Constitution grants the president broad authority to pardon federal crimes, but he cannot pardon state crimes. In the Mueller probe, Manafort was charged with multiple counts of tax fraud, bank fraud, failure to report foreign bank accounts, false statements, money laundering, failure to register as a foreign agent, conspiracy, and obstruction of justice.
He was convicted of eight counts of tax fraud, bank fraud, and failure to report foreign bank accounts. He also pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy and one count of obstruction as part of a plea deal with Mueller. But Jackson voided Manafort’s plea deal after the court found that he breached the deal by lying to prosecutors about several interactions under scrutiny in the Russia investigation.