Paul Manafort’s New York State Charges Change The Game

Paul Manafort is being charged with crimes very similar to what the Trump Organization is being accused of. These are crimes the president can't pardon.
President Trump and the mugshot of former Trump Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort (AP)

President Trump and the mugshot of former Trump Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort (AP)

Today, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. announced a 16-count grand jury indictment against former Trump Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort. The charges include mortgage fraud, conspiracy, and falsifying business records. The new charges were unsealed shortly after Judge Amy Berman Jackson sentenced Paul Manafort to 3.5 years in prison for his obstruction of justice and conspiracy convictions resulting from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. Last week, Manafort received a 47-month sentence from Judge T. S. Ellis (well below the sentencing guidelines). This brings the total sentence for Manafort’s federal crimes to 7.5 years in prison.

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Manafort is the first member of Trump’s inner circle to be charged with state crimes. Manafort could face up to 25 years if convicted. As many have reported, this is significant because President Trump does not have the power to pardon state crimes. These state investigations are also out of President Trump’s obstructive reach – he can’t fire the investigators. But there’s another reason this should concern the president.

Manafort is being charged with falsifying business records to obtain millions of dollars in loans. This is very similar to what Trump’s former fixer Michael Cohen has accused the Trump Organization of doing. During his testimony in front of the House Oversight Committee, Cohen claimed Trump inflated his assets in an effort to obtain a loan from Deutsche Bank for the purchase of the Buffalo Bills – a loan he didn’t receive. Cohen also claimed that similar tactics were used when obtaining insurance. Given the Trump Organization’s reported history of fraudulent behavior, Cohen’s allegations are being taken seriously by the state of New York.

Earlier this week, New York Attorney General Letitia James subpoenaed records from Deutsche Bank and Investors Bank related to loans the Trump Organization received. This came after the New York State Department of Financial Services subpoenaed a Trump Organization insurance broker.

New York state investigators are actively looking for fraudulent activity on the part of Donald Trump, and they apparently have already discovered some of that activity on the part of Paul Manafort. This marks a shift in the investigations surrounding President Trump and raises questions about whether or not there are other indictments already in New York. As almost every organization he has led is under investigation, these new state charges against Paul Manafort send a clear signal Trump and his associates. As Manhattan DA Vance said in his statement about Paul Manafort’s charges: “No one is beyond the law in New York…”

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News // Donald Trump / Paul Manafort / Trump Organization