Paul Manafort's lawyers ask for leniency: This is 'not about murder'

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By Tom Winter  with NBC News U.S. News
Image: Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort arrives at court
Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort arrives at the Federal Courthouse in Washington on June 15, 2018.   -   Copyright  Michael Reynolds EPA

Paul Manafort's legal team has made the argument for a sentence "significantly" less than the 10 years that could be handed down and argue that given the money and assets Manafort has turned over to the government, he should receive no jail time at all in his case before the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C.

His attorneys argue in a memo submitted to the court that only a handful of Foreign Agents Registration Act violations that have been prosecuted in the past, and they note that people convicted of running afoul of foreign bank account reporting laws often don't get harsh prison sentences.

"This case is not about murder, drug cartels, organized crime, the Madoff Ponzi scheme or the collapse of Enron," they write in the memo.


Instead, they said Manafort, 69, has been ruined by the scrutiny and scope of the investigation, which has resulted in no charges related to "Russian Collusion."

The memo from Manafort's team follows a sentencing document submitted by the office of special counsel Robert Mueller on Friday night. Prosecutors in that memo said Manafort "repeatedly and brazenly" broke the laws ranging from tax fraud and money laundering to the Foreign Agents Registration Act.

Lawyers for Manafort, a former chairman of President Donald Trump's campaign, also repeated their prior claims about a "pre-dawn" raid that woke up Manafort and his wife in the summer of 2017, when agents with guns drawn entered the Manafort home to search not for evidence of Russian collusion but for tax fraud. The special counsel's office has disputed this claim in court filings, saying investigators were operating on a standard post-6 a.m. search warrant.

Manafort's legal team also argue in the memo that his case already acts as a deterrent to any potential future violators.

"As a result of this widely-reported case, the public now understands what can happen when the full prosecutorial force of the United States government is brought down upon an individual, and would-be violators have been generally deterred from engaging in similar conduct," they wrote.

Manafort's lawyers also included statements from character witnesses, including his wife, Kathleen, and his daughter, who said her father was "worthy of forgiveness."