- The Washington Times - Friday, March 8, 2019

President Trump said Friday the judge in Paul Manafort’s trial, who gave the former campaign chairman a light sentence for bank and tax fraud, “stated loudly” that there was “no collusion with Russia.”

U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis’ 47-month sentence for Manafort shows special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election is a “Witch Hunt Hoax,” the president wrote on Twitter.

“Both the Judge and the lawyer in the Paul Manafort case stated loudly and for the world to hear that there was NO COLLUSION with Russia,” he tweeted. “But the Witch Hunt Hoax continues as you now add these statements to House & Senate Intelligence & Senator Burr. So bad for our Country!”

Mr. Ellis sentenced Manafort after he was found guilty of 10 charges of bank and tax fraud in August.

Manafort’s sentence fell well short of the 19 to 24 years recommended under federal sentencing guidelines, with Mr. Ellis calling them “excessive” and criticizing Mr. Mueller for seeking the maximum penalty.

“It is a just sentence, and I have satisfied myself about that,” the judge said. “The government cannot sweep away the history of all these previous sentences.”

Manafort’s lawyers said the maximum sentence is rarely given for similar offenders.

“Tax evasion is by no means jaywalking, but it’s not drug trafficking,” said Thomas Zehnle, a Manafort attorney.

Manafort likely will receive more jail time on Wednesday in Washington after he pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy. He could be sentenced up to 10 extra years.

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