Mueller seeks tough sentence for ex-Trump campaign chairman Manafort

US Special Counsel Robert Mueller, shown in this file photo, wants a strict prison sentence for President Donald Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort, after a jury last year convicted him on eight counts of bank and tax fraud. (REUTERS)
Updated 16 February 2019
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Mueller seeks tough sentence for ex-Trump campaign chairman Manafort

  • Manafort was convicted by a jury last year on eight counts of bank and tax fraud
  • A judge ruled lately that Manafort had breached his plea agreement in a parallel case

WASHINGTON: Prosecutors for Special Counsel Robert Mueller urged a federal judge in Virginia on Friday to impose a strict prison sentence for President Donald Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort, after a jury last year convicted him on eight counts of bank and tax fraud.
In their sentencing memo filed in US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, prosecutors said Manafort, who is 69, deserves between 19.6 and 24.4 years in prison and a fine of between $50,000 and $24 million.
Friday’s court filing in Virginia came just days after a federal judge in Washington, D.C., ruled that Manafort had breached his plea agreement in a parallel case by lying to investigators despite a pledge to cooperate.
That finding earlier this week by Judge Amy Berman Jackson in US District Court for the District of Columbia could have a direct impact on how Manafort is sentenced in the Virginia case.
Judge T.S. Ellis in Alexandria, Virginia, had planned to sentence Manafort on Feb. 8, but he later postponed that until after Jackson’s ruling, saying it “may have some effect on the sentencing decision in this case.”
Manafort was one of the first people in Trump’s orbit to face criminal charges as part of Mueller’s investigation into whether Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia to tilt the 2016 presidential election in his favor.
Trump has denied colluding and called the probe a witch hunt, while Russia has denied meddling in the election.
None of the charges Manafort faced related directly to Russian interference in the 2016 campaign.
In the Virginia case, prosecutors accused Manafort of hiding from US tax authorities $16 million he earned as a political consultant for pro-Russian politicians in Ukraine, money he used to fund an opulent lifestyle.
Later, when his lobbying work started to dry up following the ouster of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, prosecutors said Manafort began lying to banks to secure $20 million in loans to keep his lifestyle afloat.
After almost four days of deliberations, a 12-member jury found Manafort guilty on two counts of bank fraud, five counts of tax fraud and one charge of failing to disclose foreign bank accounts. 


Mexico demands apology for colonial ‘abuses,’ Spain hits back

Handout photo released by the Mexican presidency showing Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador answering questions during a press conference at the Palacio Nacional, in Mexico City on March 25, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 26 March 2019
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Mexico demands apology for colonial ‘abuses,’ Spain hits back

  • “The government of Spain deeply regrets that the letter the Mexican president sent to his majesty the king, whose contents we firmly reject, has been made public,” it said in a statement

MEXICO CITY: The 500-year-old wounds of the Spanish conquest were ripped open afresh on Monday when Mexico’s president urged Spain and the Vatican to apologize for their “abuses” — a request Madrid said it “firmly rejects.”
President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, an anti-establishment leftist, reopened the debate over Spain’s centuries of dominance in the New World with a video posted to social media, urging Spanish King Felipe VI and Pope Francis to apologize for the conquest and the rights violations committed in its aftermath.
“I have sent a letter to the king of Spain and another to the pope calling for a full account of the abuses and urging them to apologize to the indigenous peoples (of Mexico) for the violations of what we now call their human rights,” Lopez Obrador, 65, said in the video, filmed at the ruins of the indigenous city of Comalcalco.
“There were massacres and oppression. The so-called conquest was waged with the sword and the cross. They built their churches on top of the (indigenous) temples,” he said.
“The time has come to reconcile. But let us ask forgiveness first.”
Spain’s reaction was swift and unequivocal.
“The government of Spain deeply regrets that the letter the Mexican president sent to his majesty the king, whose contents we firmly reject, has been made public,” it said in a statement.
“The arrival, 500 years ago, of Spaniards to present Mexican territory cannot be judged in the light of contemporary considerations,” it said.
“Our two brother nations have always known how to read our shared past without anger and with a constructive perspective, as free peoples with a shared history and extraordinary influence.”

Lopez Obrador took office in December after a landslide election win that represented a firm break with Mexico’s traditional political parties.
A folksy populist, he pulls no punches in going after traditional elites — but had so far cultivated cordial relations with Spain, including during a visit to Mexico City by Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez earlier this year.
Lopez Obrador made the remarks during a visit to his native Tabasco state, in southern Mexico.
He was later due to visit the nearby city of Centla. On March 14, 1519, the site was the scene of one of the first battles between Spanish conquistador Hernan Cortes and the indigenous peoples of the land now known as Mexico.
With the help of horses, swords, guns and smallpox — all unknown in the New World at the time — Cortes led an army of less than 1,000 men to defeat the Aztec empire, the start of 300 years of Spanish rule over Mexico.