- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 27, 2019

President Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort pleaded not guilty to state mortgage fraud charges in New York on Thursday.

Manafort, who is serving a 7 1/2-year prison sentence on charges brought by special counsel Robert Mueller, entered his plea during an arraignment in a Manhattan courtroom.

On the same day that Manafort was sentenced in Washington, D.C, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance announced a 16-count indictment. The charges include residential mortgage fraud, falsifying business records and other crimes.

Mr. Vance’s move appears to be an attempt to make Manafort face some prison time in a jurisdiction outside of federal control — and thus beyond the reach of a presidential pardon.

Manafort’s New York attorney, Todd Blanche blasted the charges, saying “the laws of New York do not allow the people to do what they did in this case.”

Graying and walking with a limp, Manafort arrived in court in a blue jail uniform.

Manafort was one of the more prominent names to be charged in Mr. Mueller’s probe into Russian interference in 2016. Mr. Mueller concluded the investigation in March without finding sufficient evidence to charge members of the Trump campaign of conspiring with Russia.

However, Mr Mueller did bring financial fraud and foreign lobbying charges against Manafort.

Last summer a federal jury in Alexandria, Virginia convicted Manafort of bank and tax fraud. He also plead guilty to foreign lobbying charges and agreed to cooperate with Mueller’s team. That deal was nixed when a federal judge concluded Manafort breached his plea deal by lying to investigators.

All told, Manafort was sentenced to 7 1/2 years for the crimes.

Mr. Trump has consistently expressed sympathy for Manafort, blasting the special counsel’s probe as a “witch hunt.” However, he has not publicly stated whether he would pardon his one-time campaign chairman.

This story is based in part on wire services.

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