Charges Dismissed Against Paul Manafort, One Step Closer To Pardon
“We have said since the day this indictment was made public that it was politically motivated and violated New York’s statutory double jeopardy law.”
Paul Manafort, the former campaign manager of President Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, had charges of mortgage fraud dismissed on Wednesday in New York.
A judge in New York dismissed the mortgage fraud charges against the convicted felon as he cited double jeopardy laws. The 70-year-old was previously convicted and sentenced as a result of information unveiled by former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.
Judge Maxwell Wiley said the case brought by the state of New York was too similar to the case that landed him in prison in the Mueller prosecution and constituted double jeopardy.
Judge Wiley said that there was fault with the prosecutor’s argument that he was not “previously prosecuted” because the charges were previously dismissed “without prejudice” by Judge T.S. Ellis for the Eastern District of Virginia.
“Regardless of this apparent discrepancy between Judge Ellis’s words and the court document, the federal record is clear that Judge Ellis was not authorizing any governmental entity, either state or federal, to obtain a new accusatory instrument,” said Wiley.
“To argue, as the People do here, that the statement ‘without prejudice’ is in fact an authorization to obtain a new accusatory instrument strains reason,” the judge said. “In fact, Judge Ellis expressed doubt that the Hung Counts could ever be resurrected — and added that that was not ‘his problem.’”
The prosecution by Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance, Jr. was supposed to provide protection against the possibility that President Trump would pardon Manafort.
With no specter of state charges nor a state conviction, the president could pardon Manafort allowing him to become a free man despite his 7.5-year prison sentence. The president is only able to pardon those convicted of federal charges. A state conviction would be outside of the president’s reach.
“We will appeal today’s decision and will continue working to ensure that Mr. Manafort is held accountable for the criminal conduct against the People of New York that is alleged in the indictment,” Vance’s office said in a statement.
Manafort’s attorney, Todd Blanche, celebrated the news.
“We have said since the day this indictment was made public that it was politically motivated and violated New York’s statutory double jeopardy law,” Blanche declared. “We thank Judge Wiley for his careful consideration of our motion and his thoughtful opinion dismissing the charges against Mr. Manafort.”
“This indictment should never have been brought, and today’s decision is a stark reminder that the law and justice should always prevail over politically-motivated actions,” Blanche added.