Paul Manafort, perhaps the biggest “fish” to come from the Mueller investigation, has been sentenced today. Judge T.S. Ellis III presided over the proceedings. Manafort was convicted late last year of eight felonies, including tax fraud, defrauding banks, and hiding bank accounts from authorities.

It was recommended that Manafort be given 19-24 years for his deeds in this case, yet in a surprise move, the judge lowered that enormously to under four years in a federal penitentiary.

Judge Ellis sent liberal twitter into a meltdown with some of his comments leading up to the lesser sentence. Many were following on the social media network like blood-thirsty Romans watching a Gladiator match, hoping for the bloodiest ending to Manafort, likely because they see it as some kind of vindication of Robert Mueller’s investigation. You can view some of their anguished replies by clicking on the tweets above and below.

Judge Ellis also went out of his way today to publicly proclaim that Manafort’s sentencing has nothing to do with “Russian collusion” or any other Democrat fever dream. The judge has been forceful on that aspect for a while, trying to ensure that no false narratives emanate from his court room.

That hasn’t stopped the media from continuing to delve into ridiculous conspiracy theories, such as the idea that Manafort sharing personal polling data with a Russian associate somehow constitutes something illegal or nefarious. In reality, the most likely explanation is that Manafort, having known the associate for decades and needing money, was trying to gin up future lines of income by giving him access to the information. Regardless, nothing was illegal about the contact and it’s simply served as yet another dead end to bat around on CNN and the pages of The New York Times.

Two things can be true at the same time when dealing with the Paul Manafort situation.

Paul Manafort committed crimes. Trump should have never hired him nor taken the advice of those that recommended him as a delegate wrangler. Manafort deserves to go to prison for his actions. Yet, it’s also true that the prosecution of Manafort was completely ignored for years by the DOJ/FBI until Donald Trump came into the picture and certain actors saw it as a way to “get Trump.” It’s possible that such a perversion of our legal system played into Judge Ellis being extremely lenient in this case.

Manafort is not totally off the hook though. He’s facing another sentencing next week in Washington D.C. for two charges of conspiracy, each carrying up to five years. I expect the book to be thrown at him in that one.

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