People seemed astonished (appalled, for many) that Manafort got off unexpectedly lightly, receiving a prison sentence of just under four years for a host of crimes including tax evasion and fraud.
There may be something –not on the surface—behind that.
To begin with, we must remember that judges have GREAT discretion in arriving at a sentence to jail. Their assessment can take into consideration almost anything and everything starting with the Defendant’s demeanor, the risk of appeal, etc.
In this case the Defendant was pretty ugly, and the Judge was clearly not amused.
Yet, there are two other cases and sentences yet to come.
And Manafort is about 70 years old and apparently in poor health.
And, there is the ‘threat’ of a pardon hanging over the case.
All that leads me to think that the Judge cleverly tried to thread the needle to make a sentence that would stick, BUT not so long that Trump might feel he owes his ’friend’ a get out of jail card –which might end up hurting Trump more than it would help Manafort.
After all, we know that Trump’s key question is how something plays with his base.
The base would probably favor a pardon, BUT it might bring down the house.
This way, almost everyone wins: Manafort gets a light sentence; Trump will say ‘see even the Judge did not think he was so bad!’ and Mueller gets Manafort locked up. We the people, in the meantime, continue to hold our noses and hope something, anything, happens soon to rid us of the foul stench of this administration!