WASHINGTON – With President Donald Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort getting a 47-month sentence for bank and tax fraud [with a total of 7.5 years] and Hillary Clinton not being charged for having sent and received classified emails on a private server, some Americans may question whether justice was served.
“Neither adds confidence in our criminal justice system,” said Richard Vatz, professor of political persuasion at Towson University in Maryland.
However, Vatz said the “lack of action against Hillary Clinton is “the greater outrage” because “Manafort’s light sentence was following a conviction” whereas “Clinton’s possible crimes were not seriously and fairly investigated.”
He added: “Few believe that any politically relevant decision is decided by anything but the politics of the court in question.”
Tom DeLuca, a professor of political science at Fordham University in New York City, objected to the Manafort-Clinton comparison.
“You can’t compare them,” he said. “One was serious crimes (Manafort) and the other (Clinton) was in a large part a political vendetta.”
DeLuca said that the lenient sentence Manafort received last week for bank and tax fraud may have caused the public to doubt the fairness of the criminal justice system but that his latest sentence might help reinstill some faith in the system.
“The sentencing that went down today that brings up his total sentence to over seven years helps to bring a little bit more, I think justice, to commensurate with the crimes he committed.”
Manafort on Wednesday was sentenced to 43 months in prison on charges of conspiracy. Judge Amy Berman Jackson in U.S. District Court in Washington ruled that 30 months of the sentence will be served concurrently with the 47-month sentence he received Thursday in Eastern District Court of Virginia for bank and tax fraud convictions.
Manafort could have been sentenced to up to 80 years for the Virginia convictions and an additional 10 years on Wednesday. Between the two trials he could have faced up to 90 years in prison. New York state prosecutors charged Manafort with mortgage fraud, conspiracy and doctoring business records following federal sentencing on Wednesday.
The Clinton email investigation ended in 2016 with the FBI exonerating her of any wrongdoing.
Those who believe the FBI and the Department of Justice gave favorable treatment to Clinton and exhibited bias against Trump in the Russia probe may feel vindicated by the release of interview transcripts of the House Judiciary Committee’s closed-door interview with former FBI agent Lisa Page.
Ranking Member Doug Collins (R-Ga.) released the transcripts on Tuesday. They show that Page told the committee last summer that even though some agents favored charging Clinton, they were ultimately overruled by DoJ.
Page made the admission in response to questioning by Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Texas).
Lisa Page confirmed to me under oath that the FBI was ordered by the Obama DOJ not to consider charging Hillary Clinton for gross negligence in the handling of classified information. pic.twitter.com/KPQKINBtrB
— John Ratcliffe (@RepRatcliffe) March 13, 2019
Page and fellow agent Peter Strzok exchanged text messages in which he said they would stop Trump from being elected president, according to a DoJ inspector general report that was released in June.
“[Trump’s] not ever going to become president, right?” Page wrote to Strzok on Aug. 8, 2016.
“No he won’t. We’ll stop it,” Strzok replied.
The agents, who were dating at the time although both were married, were dismissed from Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigative team in 2017 after it was discovered they had exchanged anti-Trump texts. Strzok was a lead investigator in the Clinton email probe.
Strzok was grilled by House Republicans for 10-1/2 hours during a public hearing last July. Strzok insisted that his political preference did not affect decisions made in the FBI’s investigation into potential collusion between members of the Trump campaign and Russian officials.
Strzok refused to answer several questions. He said FBI counsel instructed him not to comment on matters related to ongoing investigations.