To Paul Manafort, who is nearly 70 years old, a 47-month sentence in federal prison might seem like an eternity. But the mainstream media has treated it like a perversion of justice.
Enjoy your victory, Mr. President, wrote CNN’s Stephen Collinson in “Manafort sentencing marks rare reprieve for Trump world in Mueller probe.” It is not likely to last long.
“Donald Trump has rarely caught a break since special counsel Robert Mueller clamped a vise around his White House two years ago,” Collinson wrote. “Yet the shorter-than-expected sentence handed to his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort is giving the president a few, rare crumbs of comfort as he faces down an expansive set of criminal, civil and congressional investigations into his presidency, campaign, business empire and personal life.”
Later, he wrote, without evidence, “Nothing that happened Thursday lessened Trump’s potential legal or political exposure, or repudiated Mueller’s investigation, which has uncovered a pattern of lying by Trump acolytes about unexplained ties to Russia. It’s a measure of how grim the last few years have been for the president that the jailing of his former campaign chairman could be interpreted in any way as good news for his White House.”
He later lamented that “the judge’s leniency does not change the fact of Manafort’s conviction by a jury of his peers,” and pointed out, as have others, that Manafort will be sentenced by a hostile judge next week in Washington.
The sentence called to mind decades of inequality in America’s courts, wrote Reis Thebault and Michael Brice-Saddler in the Washington Post.
The sentence, “highly anticipated,” capped “a significant chapter in Robert S. Mueller III’s special counsel investigation,” Thebault and Brice-Saddler wrote, even though the case does not involve anything to do with President Trump, his campaign or collusion with Russians – a fact the judge pointed out from the bench during sentencing.
“But it was an unlikely candidate to become the latest example of a conflict that has vexed legal professionals and activists for decades: systemic inequality in the criminal justice system,” they wrote.
As observers “digested the judge’s decision – 47 months – Manafort’s case was immediately perceived as a high-profile instance of the justice system working one way for a wealthy, well-connected man, while working in another, harsher way, for indigent defendants facing lesser crimes.”
Thebault and Brice-Saddler then quoted Ari Melber of MSNBC saying the sentence is “a reminder of the blatant inequalities in our justice system that we all know about, because they reoccur every week in courts across America.”
HuffPost leapt on comments by U.S. District Court Judge T.S. Ellis, who sentenced Manafort, that the lobbyist had “lived an otherwise blameless life.”
“But as many media outlets have reported, Manafort led a long and storied career as a lobbyist for some of the planet’s most notorious dictators.”
HuffPost reported Manafort had worked for former Philippines dictator Ferdinand Marcos, a Ukranian oligarch, Mobutu Sese Seko, former military dictator of Zaire, now Congo, and Jonas Savimbi of Angola, HuffPost’s Nick Visser reported in “Judge Says Manafort Led an ‘Otherwise Blameless Life.’ His Resume Says Otherwise” – subhead: “Manafort’s past clients included notorious dictators, kleptocrats and human rights abusers.”
Barbara McQuade of the Daily Beast consoled herself with the fact Manafort faces another sentencing in “Manafort Got Off Easy for Now But Mueller’s Not Done Yet” – subhead: “The sentencing did not go as Mueller likely hoped, but there are plenty of signals that the former Trump campaign chairman faces lots more trouble.”
She wrote that the sentence “makes the stark disparities that exist in our criminal justice system painfully clear,” but noted, “It’s unlikely to derail the Mueller investigation.”
She added: “And for anyone reading between the lines in the Russia investigation, Mueller’s still got plenty to work with.”
In fact, Democrats have ramped up congressional investigations into President Trump because they are convinced Mueller doesn’t have much to work with.