By Robert A. Vella
T.S. Ellis III, the U.S. District Court judge in the first of two criminal cases against former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, sent a message to Americans yesterday that essentially said:
White collar crime, no matter how egregious, will not be severely punished especially when committed by white men of the Republican persuasion.
Fortunately, Ellis’ message won’t be the last one regarding Manafort’s guilt.
Paul Manafort won leniency Thursday from a federal judge who sent him to prison for less than four years, but next week he’ll be sentenced in a second case by a less forgiving judge who could add another 10 years to his term.
Manafort, 69, faced as long as 24 years in prison after jurors in Alexandria, Virginia, convicted him last year of hiding $55 million in offshore accounts, failing to pay $6 million in taxes, and defrauding banks. But U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III said Thursday that a quarter-century behind bars was too extreme and sentenced Manafort to 47 months.
Next, Manafort will be sentenced on March 13 by U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson in Washington, where he pleaded guilty to two conspiracy charges and pledged to cooperate with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Hiring slowed sharply in February as employers added just 20,000 jobs amid harsh winter weather and a weakening U.S. and global economy.
That’s the weakest job growth since September 2017.
The unemployment rate fell to 3.8 percent from 4 percent, the Labor Department said Friday. The partial government shutdown boosted the jobless rate in January as many federal government employees told Labor survey takers they were unemployed or on temporary leave.
More broadly, the U.S. economy is expected to slow this year after federal tax cuts and spending increases juiced growth in 2018. The economy grew 2.9 percent last year, the second strongest showing of the nearly 10-year-old expansion, and monthly job growth averaged a robust 223,000. But those stimulus effects are expected to fade by late this year.
WA AG warns rural sheriffs about gun control law
County sheriffs who say they won’t enforce Washington’s new, stricter gun laws could be held liable if they refuse to perform enhanced background checks and someone who shouldn’t buy a gun is able to buy one and uses it in a crime, Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson said on Tuesday.
In an open letter to law enforcement, Ferguson wrote that he was confident the wide-ranging law was constitutional and would withstand court challenges, but that he was concerned about threats — mostly from county sheriffs — to not enforce the new law.
At least 13 county sheriffs have said they won’t enforce the law, Initiative 1639, which voters passed by a wide margin in November.
Most of the new law — which raises the minimum age to buy semi-automatic rifles, requires enhanced background checks for those rifles and can hold gun owners responsible if their gun was stored carelessly and is used in a crime — has not yet gone into effect. Only the higher age limit — raised from 18 to 21 — is now in effect; the rest of the law goes into effect July 1.