The sentence handed down by Judge T.S. Ellis to Paul Manafort is shockingly light. Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman was convicted of various financial crimes and could have ended up with 25 years in prison. Instead, Judge Ellis sentenced him to 47 months. To add insult to the overall injury, Ellis opined that Manafort had lived “an otherwise blameless life” as part of the justification for the light sentence.
Judge Ellis handed down a fundamentally biased sentence. Law Twitter is right about that, and rightly inflamed. Ellis is the same judge who gave former Louisiana congressman Bill Jefferson a 13-year sentence following conviction on corruption charges. It’s the longest sentence ever handed out to a member of Congress. (Jefferson was released after serving only four years, when Ellis accepted a Jefferson plea deal in light of the Supreme Court’s decision in McDonnell v. United States, which redefined our understanding of bribery of public officials.) This seems like a good time to mention that Jefferson is an African American while Manafort is an otherwise blameless white man.