Former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe says he was “shocked” by what he called an “incredibly lenient” sentence for Paul Manafort, who was given 47 months in prison on eight counts of bank and tax fraud. The former Trump campaign chairman, who was sentenced on Thursday, received far less prison time than federal sentencing guidelines recommended.
“I was really surprised by the sentence he was given. I think it’s an incredibly lenient sentence in light not just of the offenses he was convicted for, but the additional offenses that he has pled guilty to in D.C. and the offenses he’s acknowledged, essentially, in the sentencing process in Virginia that he is responsible for,” McCabe said on “Face the Nation” Sunday. “So, like most people I was shocked by how lenient the sentence was.”
McCabe worked at the FBI for decades before being, just days before he would have become eligible to receive a pension. As deputy director and acting director of the bureau, he was at the center of the FBI’s investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
At Thursday’s sentencing hearing in federal court in Virginia, U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis said Manafort committed “undeniably serious,” but said a longer sentence of potentially 20 years was “unwarranted” and “excessive,” adding that Manafort has “lived an otherwise blameless life.”
Manafort faces additional prison time at a second hearing on conspiracy charges in Washington this week. He has pleaded guilty to two felonies in that case, each of which carries a maximum sentence of five years.
McCabe said that there’s “no question” Manafort is going to get additional time.
“I don’t think it’s probably the job of the D.C. courts to rectify a mistake or something that was done in another jurisdiction. I’m sure that Judge Jackson will approach her sentence with just keeping her eye on the facts of the case, but there’s no doubt he’ll get additional time from that process,” McCabe said, referring to Judge Amy Berman Jackson, who is presiding over the D.C. case.
At the White House on Friday, President Trump.
“I think it’s been a very, very tough time for him but if you notice both his lawyer, a highly respected man, and a very highly respected man, a judge — the judge said there was no collusion with Russian,” Mr. Trump said, misrepresenting Ellis’ observation that the charges Manafort faced in Virginia were not related to collusion. “This had nothing to do with collusion. There was no collusion. It’s a collusion hoax.”
In his book “The Threat,” McCabe writes that a judge might one day be influenced by the president’s public pronouncements. On Sunday, he said he did not think that was the case in Manafort’s sentencing, but criticized the president’s public comments nonetheless.
“When the president engages in messaging like that, people can’t help but step back and ask themselves that question that you just asked — did that have an impact on the process or on the result in this case? We don’t know the answer to that, but it introduces a level of doubt and insecurity into a system that we all need to depend upon being fair and free,” McCabe said.
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