Manafort charged in New York just after federal sentencing
Just minutes after his federal prison sentence was raised to 7 1/2 years, Paul Manafort was charged by New York state prosecutors with residential mortgage fraud, conspiracy and falsifying business records.
President Trump has no pardon powers over state crimes, and the move by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. raises the prospect of a third criminal conviction for Trump's one-time campaign manager.
It's the latest entry in Manafort's criminal saga, one that's stretched from Ukraine to Brooklyn with allegations of money laundering, high living and witness tampering, while advising Eastern European autocrats on how to stay in power. After one judge came down on the light end of a possible sentence citing his "otherwise blameless life" last Thursday, another judge Wednesday lashed into him for copious deceit and trying to game the system.
Vance has been investigating Manafort since March 2017, before Special Counsel Robert Mueller was appointed to investigate possible Russian interference in the 2016 campaign and any related matter. With Vance's dramatic announcement, Manafort now faces the possibility of additional years in a state prison that could be much harsher than what he gets in the federal system.
The New York charges are narrower than those brought by Mueller.
The first five counts, based on residential mortgage fraud, involve Manafort's attempts to use his property on Howard Street in Manhattan's SoHo neighborhood to secure a bank loan.
According to the indictment, Manafort urged two associates, believed to be his daughter and then-son-in-law, to make sure they were present at the luxury apartment when the appraiser came by, to create the impression that the SoHo apartment was a residence, and not something he rented out.
Manafort's lawyers are likely to argue that prosecutors are piling onto the 69-year-old and that the New York case should be dismissed on double jeopardy grounds. Vance's team has spent time researching the nuances of state law that protects state defendants from being charged twice for the same actions.
Kevin Downing, who has represented Manafort in the cases brought by Mueller, didn't answer questions about Vance outside the Washington courthouse following the sentencing.
New York's law provides protections for defendants even stronger than those guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution's Fifth Amendment. Vance's office has identified several areas where it believes Manafort can be safely charged with state offenses.
Trump has bemoaned Manafort's treatment at the hands of Mueller and has said that he has not ruled out a pardon. Trump has frequently talked of his broad pardon power, possibly extending even to himself, and acted to liberate two political allies previously.