Judge Jackson tends to be relatively lenient on convicted criminals who appear before her. In the five years that ended in 2017, she handed down an average prison sentence of 32 months, below the Washington district’s average of 46 months and the nationwide average of 47 months, according to court data maintained by Syracuse University’s Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse.
But she also has gone out of her way to make clear that being well connected earns no chits in her court. “She knows who commits white-collar crime,” said Heather Shaner, a Washington lawyer who represented an embezzler in her court. “And she thinks it’s perfectly fine to punish them if they commit a crime and hold them to a higher standard because they have the education, and because they have the wealth.”
The prospect that Mr. Trump could pardon Mr. Manafort has hung over the proceedings for many months. Late last year, Mr. Trump said that he “wouldn’t take it off the table.” More recently, he said, “I don’t even discuss it.”
Asked again after Wednesday’s sentencing, Mr. Trump said: “I have not even given it a thought, as of this moment. It’s not something that’s right now on my mind.” He added, “I feel very badly for Paul Manafort,” saying “certainly, on a human basis, it’s a very sad thing.”
He said again that the special counsel’s investigation was “a hoax.” In remarks that appeared aimed at the president, Mr. Downing said outside the courthouse that “two courts have ruled no evidence of any collusion with the Russians.”
In fact, Judge Jackson and Judge Ellis simply noted that the evidence against Mr. Manafort was not related to Russia’s election meddling.
The new charges filed in New York, in an indictment secured by the Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., were apparently meant to ensure that Mr. Manafort would be punished even if he was pardoned. They were rooted in the same financial fraud that led to Mr. Manafort’s downfall in federal courthouses. He is charged with falsifying business records to obtain millions of dollars in loans from two banks.