After defrauding the United States of millions through his work in Ukraine and on behalf of Russian elites, former campaign chair to President Donald Trump, Paul Manafort, received a 47 month prison sentence in one of the two cases brought against him by Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office.
The sentence—handed down by U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III—was a far cry from the 19 to 24 years recommended by the Special Counsel, insisting that Manafort had lived an otherwise “blameless life.”
A chorus of voices soon began coming out against the sentence’s leniency, criticizing Judge Ellis for believing Manafort led a blameless life, and highlighting the widespread inequities within the United States’ Justice System.
Among them was veteran journalist Dan Rather, who said:
“The sentence is just a slap on the wrist to, you know, a big-time criminal…a minor sentence for another elite, well-connected, Washington big-shot. I will say, a lot of black kids in the projects routinely get worse sentences than Manafort has gotten.”
Many notable Americans began sharing stories of those who committed far less harmful crimes but—due to an insufficient amount of wealth or whiteness—were handed harsher sentences.
Trump's campaign manager, Paul Manafort, commits bank and tax fraud and gets 47 months. A homeless man, Fate Winslow, helped sell $20 of pot and got life in prison. The words above the Supreme Court say "Equal Justice Under Law"—when will we start acting like it?
— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) March 8, 2019
Whistleblower Edward Snowden brought attention to Chelsea Manning, a fellow whistleblower whose sentence for leaking information about war crimes earned her a three decade prison sentence.
#Manafort: 47 months for a lifelong carnival of criminality.
Petraeus: 0 days for trading the country's highest secrets for a more favorable biography.
Manning: 35 YEARS for revealing evidence of actual war crimes to the press.
Your sentence derives from your proximity to power.
— Edward Snowden (@Snowden) March 8, 2019
Former White House intern Monica Lewinsky agreed.
i had been threatened w/ 27 years for filing a false affidavit + other actions trying desperately to keep an affair private. https://t.co/hiwBur2Hll
— Monica Lewinsky (@MonicaLewinsky) March 8, 2019
Others pointed out the five years being served by Crystal Mason.
Paul Manafort was just sentenced to less than 4 YEARS for committing multiple felonies, including tax and bank fraud
Crystal Mason is serving FIVE YEARS for trying to vote in the 2016 election. (She didn't realize she was ineligible due to a prior conviction.)
— Judd Legum (@JuddLegum) March 8, 2019
Many Americans joined with them to criticize the sentence.
Paul Manafort getting such little jail time for such serious crimes lays out for the world how it’s almost impossible for rich people to go to jail for the same amount of time as someone who is lower income.
In our current broken system, “justice” isn’t blind. It’s bought. https://t.co/1UgBXmR8bl
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) March 8, 2019
I got grounded for 47 months for talking-back to my mom once. + I got a chancla thrown at me, which I dodged, so it grazed my ear. My mom’s tougher than that lame Judge Ellis.
Man, if Manafort was black or brown and was caught selling an ounce of pot, he’d be in jail for life.🤷🏻♀️
— Ana Navarro-Cárdenas (@ananavarro) March 8, 2019
Good thing Paul Manafort didn’t sell pot (esp while being black). He only ripped our government out of millions, defrauded banks and tried to sell our country’s interests to foreign powers. No biggie.
— Amy Siskind 🏳️🌈 (@Amy_Siskind) March 8, 2019
One particular phrase used by Judge Ellis while handing down the sentence struck the ire of many.