MSNBC Goes DEFCON-1 on Manafort Ruling; ‘Shocking’ ‘Injustice’ by ‘Puppet’ Judge to Please Moscow

On Thursday night, the liberal media had to grapple with the surprising prison sentence of 47 months for former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort by Judge T.S. Ellis. And for MSNBC’s Hardball, the “shocking” and racist decision was characterized as a “breach of justice” by Ellis that’s placed trust in American government “in jeopardy” in favor of allowing his “puppet strings” to be pulled by Moscow.

NBC intelligence and national security reporter Ken Dilanian set the table by calling it “a shocker” since 47 months was far lower than the suggested “19 to 24-and-a-half years” and host Chris Matthews agreed that it’s “shocking news.”

 

 

MSNBC legal analyst Glenn Kirschner then spouted off (click “expand”):

As a former prosecutor, I’m embarrassed. As an American, I'm upset because, you know, what did we hear Paul Manafort say after he landed the position as Trump's campaign chairman? “How do I use this to get hole with the Russians?” And a Judge Ellis will basically throw that out the window in favor of giving him a sentence that is so far below the guidelines that it is an outrage. And you know, just as proud as I was to be in the courtroom when Judge Emmet Sullivan called out Mike Flynn for being a traitor for the country and disrespecting everything the flag stands for, I am just as disappointed with Judge Ellis who apparently knows better than the guidelines sentencing commission who said for these crimes this man deserves 19 to 24 years and he said 47 months. It's an outrage and disrespectful of the American people.

Matthews joked that 47 months sounded like a sentence for “knocking off a convenience store” and legal analyst Paul Butler replied that, well, Ellis was racist for giving Manafort (who’s white) a shorter sentence: “To be a rich white man in America, you get a whole different kind of justice....If his name was Kwame or Pedro, he would be going up the river.”

The Daily Beast’s Betsy Woodruff was more straightforward, asserting that “[t]here’s no way to interpret this sentence as anything other than Judge Ellis delivering a stunning criticism of the Mueller investigation.”

“What’s he got [sic] the bee in his bonnet about Mueller? Is it that he really thinks it's a miscarriage, Paul? He really thinks it’s a miscarriage or he doesn't like the Democrats — what — climbing on or rolling up the score? What is that it’s bugging him,” Matthews replied.

Showing how melodramatic cable news types have become regarding Russia, Butler declared: “Judge Amy Berman Jackson, our nation turns its lonely eyes to you. Next week in that sentencing, you have the power to correct this tragic injustice.”

Eye roll.

Along with Kirschner, The Beat’s Ari Melber went along with Butler’s race-based take, opining that “our legal system....does not operate with equal force from everyone and Paul Manafort got the special, clubby, Washington, elite-friendly treatment.”

Just when one thought there was enough crazy to go around, MSNBC terrorism analyst Malcolm Nance upped the ante, declaring that Ellis’s decision has both “abdicated” and “place[d] in jeopardy people's trust in the system” by endorsing a belief “that the America system of government has a separate rail and that this rail should apply to people like Paul Manafort.”

Matthews must have decided that everyone else was having too much fun aboard the crazy train, so he hopped on with this rant to Congressman Mike Quigley (D-IL):

What more do you guys need to impeach? It seems to me we have the broad daylight robbery of our Constitution right in front of our faces and all the other stuff with Russia, working for the other side and they are the other side, the Russians. All this stuff has been going on in plain daylight. It's all there.. What more do you guys want?

Later in the hour, Kirschner opined that he’s “a big believer in the judiciary, but what we just saw was an unjust result” and “Bob Mueller will get the last laugh” because “a conspiracy indictment is coming” and the Mueller team could try to charge Manafort again. Talk about scary stuff.

To close out the show, Matthews and Nance went back-and-forth suggesting Judge Ellis was fixed with “puppet strings” with Manafort and Trump to do the bidding of Moscow, hoping that Mueller gets even by “throw[ing] a secret haymaker” (click “expand”):

MATTHEWS: Malcolm, how they viewing this in Moscow you think today? Is Putin saying: “My buddy got off the — off pretty easy today. Didn’t he?” What do they think of our justice system? A guy that was facing up to 20 years got four, less than four. Malcolm?

NANCE: I think the Kremlin believes that they — they now have managed to engineer the U.S. justice system by putting their man in the White House and through his influence or his, you know, his stature, he has managed to get someone who was really an agent of the Kremlin. Someone who has been paid by Moscow for almost two decades now to carry out their operations in the Ukraine and other parts of the world. You know, if I was Robert Mueller, I think now is the time to throw a secret haymaker. I would bring him up on Espionage Act charges for his contacts with Konstantin Kilimnik or something along the lines of conspiracy to defraud the United States. I wouldn't let this stand and make it clear there are more tricks in the bag of the special counsel. 

MATTHEWS: Well and Malcolm so much of this case against the President has been about his relations with Russia, the obstruction of justice matters, which I’ll deal with the next several moments, I expect. For example, getting — going — going to Comey, the head of the FBI, the top police force basically in this country — investigative unit and saying layoff my Director of National Security because he was dealing with Putin and dealing with Kislyak and everybody else. Lay off him.” And then he fires the FBI Director because he wouldn’t lay off and then he fires his Attorney General because he won’t — cause he recused himself and wouldn't help Trump in this matter. Over and over again, the President has not only done stuff but doubled down in obstructing justice against himself and today, he must be having dessert at the white house. Your thoughts on that, Malcolm.

NANCE: Well, absolutely and again this shows the puppet strings go from Moscow to the White House and now down into the U.S. judiciary. Whether the judge had any influence on the President at all, that doesn't matter. It’s the fact that — that the lawyer came out and said there was nothing to do with Moscow. That shows where the influence really lies. 

To see the relevant transcript from MSNBC’s Hardball, click “expand.”

MSNBC’s Hardball
March 7, 2019
7:02 p.m. Eastern

KEN DILANIAN: Nevertheless, this result — a four year sentence is a shocker because it is so much lower than the guidelines of 19 to 24 and a half years. I mean, there were predictions of potentially 12 years, eight years. I didn't hear a single prediction of four years in this case because let’s, you know, not only was Paul Manafort convicted of eight felonies here in this courthouse behind me, Chris, but he went on to commit other crimes after he was convicted. He reached a plea deal with the Special Counsel and lied and broke the plea deal and essentially what Judge T.S. Ellis has just said is that conduct doesn't amount much for him. He’s going to treat Manafort like any other white collar offender and give him what many people will perceive as a relatively light sentence particularly, Chris, in the statement that Manafort made to this court shortly before being sentenced, he did not apologize. 

CHRIS MATTHEWS: That’s right.

DILANIAN: He did not express remorse. He essentially talked about how painful this had been for family and he has been humiliated and he had been in solitary confinement, but not one word about his conduct and about his crimes. It was so surprising that some people looked at it and said, well, this is a man who expects to get a pardon or he is crippled by self-destructive arrogance. But that’s what happened. Ellis did mention he was surprised that Manafort didn't express regret but didn't reflect that in the sentencing whatsoever, Chris.

MATTHEWS: Well, Ken Dilanian, we’ll be back to you later in this big hour of news. Anyway, the judge in Manafort’s sentencing right now said he disagreed with the 19-to-24-year sentence guidelines that prosecutors wanted for Manafort, saying: These are quite high. I think this sentencing range is excessive.” This is the judge talking today. The judge also said of Manafort: “He has been a good friend to others, a generous person. He has lived an otherwise blameless life.” All on the record today in giving him a light sentence. I want to Glenn Kirschner right now. Shocking news. 

GLENN KIRSCHNER: Shocking and I’ll tell you. As a former prosecutor, I’m embarrassed. As an American, I'm upset because, you know, what did we hear Paul Manafort say after he landed the position as Trump's campaign chairman? “How do I use this to get hole with the Russians?” And a Judge Ellis will basically throw that out the window in favor of giving him a sentence that is so far below the guidelines that it is an outrage. And you know, just as proud as I was to be in the courtroom when Judge Emmet Sullivan called out Mike Flynn for being a traitor for the country and disrespecting everything the flag stands for, I am just as disappointed with Judge Ellis who apparently knows better than the guidelines sentencing commission who said for these crimes this man deserves 19 to 24 years and he said 47 months. It's an outrage and disrespectful of the American people.

MATTHEWS: So, Paul, what do you get for — what you do you usually get for 47 months? Is it knocking off a convenience store? I mean, I’m just wondering. This looks pretty light, it seems to me for the — for the — for the majesty of what we're talking about here. 

PAUL BUTLER: To be a rich white man in America, you get a whole different kind of justice. The judge — 

MATTHEWS: You think the judge was partial to him because he was a regular, middle class — wealthy-middle class guy or what? 

BUTLER: Well, again, he got to keep two homes worth $4 million. He was found guilty of $30 million he basically stole from the American people when he didn’t report that bank fraud — tax fraud. A jury convicted him of eight counts and then he admitted those two counts that the jury didn’t convict him of I'm guilty of those as well. And then, at sentencing, he presents himself as the victim. If his name was Kwame or Pedro, he would be going up the river. 

MATTHEWS: Well, a lot of people are going to look at this — maybe not in those terms, although we have a problem with equity in America, but this thing about a guy who stonewalls the cases, who doesn’t give any help. According to what I read today in the sentencing, he gave no help to the prosecution. All that 50 hours or whatever they sat in those rooms, nothing came out of it. All he fed them was stuff he knew that Mueller already knew. He was playing the game and he got nothing — you’d think if he’d be punished by somebody, he could still get pardoned for his four years. 

BETSY WOODRUFF: There's no way to interpret this sentence as anything other way than Judge Ellis delivering a stunning criticism of the Mueller investigation. This is a federal judge saying Mueller and his team have been essentially misleading them, mischaracterizing Manafort and running a prosecution that this judge, through this incredibly comparatively light sentence as you pointed so clear, that this judge is repudiating. That’s what this is.

MATTHEWS: What’s is key? What’s he got the bee in his bonnet about Mueller. Is it that he really thinks it's a miscarriage, Paul? He really thinks it’s a miscarriage or he doesn't like the Democrats — what — climbing on or rolling up the score? What is that it’s bugging him?

BUTLER: The concerning he’s expressed is that this case has nothing to do with collusion or obstruction of justice, which is Mueller's mandate but when the — Mueller’s investigating and he finds evidence that Manafort is a stone, cold thug, what is he supposed to do? Is he supposed to ignore that? So he did what he should do, what other prosecutors would do which is present the evidence to a jury. 

MATTHEWS: Let’s not forget the language of the mandate says also beyond the collusion, any matters of crime that come up in the investigation that they come across. 

BUTLER: Exactly so — yeah, so Judge Amy Berman Jackson, our nation turns its lonely eyes to you. Next week in that sentencing, you have the power to correct this tragic injustice.

WOODRUFF: And it’s not just.

MATTHEWS: Paul Butler, channeling Paul Simon.

(....)

7:08 p.m. Eastern

ARI MELBER: If Americans had been going to law school throughout Mueller probe and learning all of these different things as we go, tonight’s one of those nights where, as your panel just hammered, we all remember what we learn about our legal system in America. It does not operate with equal force from everyone and Paul Manafort got the special, clubby, Washington, elite friendly treatment —

MATTHEWS: Yeah.

MELBER: — for an individual who had stacks and stacks and stacks of crimes and the only reason he was convicted of crimes in multiple places is because our system found him guilty of felonies in multiple place and —

MATTHEWS: My father worked in a court system in Philadelphia. He was the dean of court reporters for 30 years and he said to me if you're guilty, get a jury because you can never forget the jury. He said get if a judge if you’re innocent because you might be able to get off on that because the judge will look at the facts and there will be no emotion, but it looks like this guy had some emotion. 

KIRSCHNER: Yeah, this guy had emotion and for all the wrong reasons and I agree with Paul. If this defendant was a young minority who robbed somebody or burgled a house, he would probably go away for —

(....)

7:15 p.m. Eastern

MALCOLM NANCE: Well, I think — I think your use of the word “reward” — “reward” is an excellent way of putting this because as you know that the parameters of his conviction are all of the activities he did leading up the where he became the campaign manager for Donald Trump and this is working for foreign dictators, this is working for the Kremlin government in the Ukraine and for him to have stolen money from the people of the United States and now gets to walk away, as Paul Butler said, with two houses worth millions of dollars and to walk away and put him in the ball park of a pardon shows that this is a — this is a breach of justice. Now, the judge is about the exact same age as Paul Manafort and maybe he felt that sympathy, but this man did not have a blameless life and right now, this places in jeopardy people's trust in the system. 

(...)

7:17 p.m. Eastern

MATTHEWS: Why is he so sympathetic to Manafort? Is it his way of saying screw you to Robert Mueller? Enemy of my enemy is my friend

NANCE: I think that it’s less of a screw you to — to Robert Mueller than essentially that he feels that the America system of government has a separate rail and that this rail should apply to people like Paul Manafort. He transmitted that punch by his blameless life statement. I'm not so sure if it’s whether it’s all about Robert Mueller or about the prosecution itself because we really haven't seen Mueller's punch related to conspiracy and other charges that could have been added on to this. This is about his money laundering and to certain extent, that money laundering and his theft of money from the people of the United States really don't seem to matter to that judge and he has abdicated the system that we came to trust. 

(....)

7:28 p.m. Eastern

MATTHEWS:  Let's talk about obstruction of justice right now, today. It’s a good time to do it after this light sentencing of Paul Manafort, the President’s campaign chair and his convention chair. He ran the convection for the President. It seems to me that there Donald Trump has made it clear from the beginning he doesn't want justice. He basically goes to the head of the FBI and says: “Layoff my friend, Michael Flynn because of these meetings he’s had with the Russians. He had his picture taken over there with Putin. Lay off the guy. He’s a good guy. Lay off of those meetings he had with Kislyak. Lay off him” And when the FBI director didn't play ball with Trump, he fired him and then he goes and fires the Attorney General because he dared to recuse himself under Justice Department rules, he can’t be involved in adjudicating a situation — a prosecutorial matter that he was personally involved in running Trump for president. All along the lines, he’s obstructed. What more do you guys need to impeach? It seems to me we have the broad daylight robbery of our Constitution right in front of our faces and all the other stuff with Russia, working for the other side and they are the other side, the Russians. All this stuff has been going on in plain daylight. It's all there. What more do you guys want?

(....)

7:34 p.m. Eastern

KIRSCHNER: So, I’m a big believer in the judiciary, but what we just saw was an unjust result. However, Bob Mueller will get the last laugh and here’s why. When David Corn a few minutes ago talked about the Havana room meeting, 

MATTHEWS: The cigar bar.

KIRSCHNER: — the cigar bar where they’re meeting with Kilimnik, where Manafort is giving over polling data, that is circumstantial evidence of a conspiracy to defraud the United States, to undermine our free and fair elections. Everybody has confused Mueller’s silence on the conspiracy with a lack of evidence on the conspiracy. He's saving the best and biggest and the central charge for last and I agree with what’s been said. A conspiracy indictment is coming and don't be surprised if we see Paul Manafort on receiving end of the unusual hat trick of federal cases because he may get rolled into that.

(....)

7:57 p.m. Eastern

MATTHEWS: Malcolm, how they viewing this in Moscow you think today? Is Putin saying: “My buddy got off the — off pretty easy today. Didn’t he?” What do they think of our justice system? A guy that was facing up to 20 years got four, less than four. Malcolm?

NANCE: I think the Kremlin believes that they — they now have managed to engineer the U.S. justice system by putting their man in the White House and through his influence or his, you know, his stature, he has managed to get someone who was really an agent of the Kremlin. Someone who has been paid by Moscow for almost two decades now to carry out their operations in the Ukraine and other parts of the world. You know, if I was Robert Mueller, I think now is the time to throw a secret a haymaker. I would bring him up on Espionage Act charges for his contacts with Konstantin Kilimnik or something along the lines of conspiracy to defraud the United States. I wouldn't let this stand and make it clear there are more tricks in the bag of the special counsel. 

MATTHEWS: Well and Malcolm so much of this case against the President has been about his relations with Russia, the obstruction of justice matters, which I’ll deal with the next several moments, I expect. For example, getting — going — going to Comey, the head of the FBI, the top police force basically in this country — investigative unit and saying layoff my Director of National Security because he was dealing with Putin and dealing with Kislyak and everybody else. Lay off him.” And then he fires the FBI Director because he wouldn’t lay off and then he fires his Attorney General because he won’t — cause he recused himself and wouldn't help Trump in this matter. Over and over again, the President has not only done stuff but doubled down in obstructing justice against himself and today, he must be having dessert at the White House. Your thoughts on that, Malcolm.

NANCE: Well, absolutely and again this shows the puppet strings go from Moscow to the White House and now down into the U.S. judiciary. Whether the judge had any influence on the President at all, that doesn't matter. It’s the fact that — that the lawyer came out and said there was nothing to do with Moscow. That shows where the influence really lies. 

NB Daily Trump Impeachment Russia Trump-Russia probe MSNBC Hardball Video Chris Matthews Donald Trump Paul Manafort
Curtis Houck's picture


Sponsored Links