Trump's Ex-Campaign Chair Faces New Charges In NYC After DC Sentencing

March 13, 2019 - 6:18 pm
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WASHINGTON (WCBS 880/AP) — President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort has been indicted in New York City on mortgage fraud, conspiracy and other state charges.

An indictment unsealed Wednesday in Manhattan accuses the 69-year-old of conducting a yearlong residential mortgage fraud scheme that netted millions of dollars. 

READ THE INDICTMENT

"No one is beyond the law in New York," said Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. "Following an investigation commenced by our Office in March 2017, a Manhattan grand jury has charged Mr. Manafort with state criminal violations which strike at the heart of New York's sovereign interests, including the integrity of our residential mortgage market. I thank our prosecutors for their meticulous investigation, which has yielded serious criminal charges for which the defendant has not been held accountable."

The move is seen as a strategy for preventing a potential presidential pardon, as Trump has repeatedly defended Manafort and floated the idea of pardoning Manafort.

As WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell reports, the defense is likely to argue double jeopardy in state court. However, New York Law professor Rebecca Roiphe says that will be difficult to prove.

“I think it's important to look at that not as gamesmanship but as a separate sovereign and there were crimes committed in New York,” said Roiphe.

Manafort’s 16-count indictment includes multiple unique charges that he was not charged for during his federal trial in New York.

“The falsification of business records claims, those are kind of a unique New York, kind of thing,” Roiphe adds.

President Trump would be unable to pardon Manafort on New York State charges.

The case has pushed some state lawmakers are looking to ensure than anyone pardoned by President Trump may still face charges in state court.

The change, proposed by Democratic state Attorney General Tish James, aims to fix an unintended loophole in the state's double jeopardy law, which prosecutors have warned could allow defendants with a presidential pardon to argue they can't be charged with similar state crimes.

No vote has been scheduled, but James says she expects the Democrat-led Senate and Assembly to approve the change in coming weeks.

The indictment Wednesday came just moments after Manafort was sentenced in Washington, D.C. to more than 3 1/2 additional years in prison, in the second of two federal cases against him. 

Judge Amy Berman Jackson sentenced Manafort to 73 months in prison. Thirty of those months will run concurrent to the four-year sentence handed down last week, meaning Manafort is slated to serve a total of 90 months in prison.

A judge in Virginia last week sentenced Manafort to 47 months in prison, far below sentencing guidelines that allowed for more than two decades in prison, prompting national debate about disparities in how rich and poor defendants are treated by the criminal justice system.

Following the sentencing, Trump said he feels "very badly" for Manafort and also insisted he's not currently considering a pardon, saying: "I have not even given it a thought as of this moment.''

(© 2019 WCBS 880. The Associated Press contributed to this report)