Tag Archives: Washington

Washington teen who shoved friend off bridge pleads guilty

Washington teen who shoved friend off bridge pleads guiltyA woman has pleaded guilty to pushing her 16-year-old friend from a bridge at a popular swimming area near Vancouver.



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Manafort’s Light Sentence in Washington Owes to How Mueller Charged Him

Manafort’s Light Sentence in Washington Owes to How Mueller Charged HimPaul Manafort has been sentenced to 43 additional months in prison by a federal judge in Washington, D.C. Manafort had been sentenced to 47 months’ imprisonment last week by a federal judge in Virginia.The Washington sentence was imposed at shortly after noon today, in a proceeding that took more than two hours.Manafort was facing two conspiracy counts, each with a maximum five-year (or 60-month) sentence. On count one, Judge Amy Berman Jackson imposed 60 months, 30 months to run concurrent and 30 consecutive to the 47-month sentence imposed in Judge T. S. Ellis in Alexandria. On count two, Judge Jackson sentenced Manafort to 13 months’ incarceration, to run consecutive to both count one and the Virginia sentence.The bottom-line result of the two cases is a prison sentence of 90 months (seven and a half years), in addition to millions of dollars in property forfeitures and fines.In my column previewing today’s sentencing, I predicted that Manafort’s total sentence between the two cases would be closer to 20 years. I was wrong because I made a basic mistake: I focused myopically on the federal sentencing guidelines calculation in the plea agreement that Manafort signed with the special counsel when he pled guilty in Washington. I forgot that, in order to induce Manafort to plead guilty, the special counsel’s office sweetened the pot by capping his statutory exposure at ten years’ imprisonment.Because the crimes Manafort admitted conspiring to commit are serious felonies (e.g., money laundering and witness tampering), his guidelines were very high, calling for a term of between 210 and 262 months (18 to 22 years) in prison. But prosecutors rendered the guidelines largely irrelevant by tucking the 20-year felonies into a pair of counts charged under a federal conspiracy provision that carries a maximum five-year sentence.As I’ll come to, this violated Justice Department charging practices. For today’s purposes, though, the significant thing is that, in any situation where the sentence called for by the sentencing guidelines is greater than the maximum sentence permitted by the statutes of conviction, the statutes control. Therefore, even though the top guidelines-range sentence would have been 262 months, Judge Jackson was restricted to no more than 120 months.She ended up imposing, in effect, 43 months, added on to the 47-month sentence imposed by Judge Ellis. Given the caterwauling that followed Ellis’s decision last week, there will no doubt be complaints that Jackson let Manafort off too easy. But if you feel that way, then Mueller shoulders much of the blame.I have complained before about the special counsel’s flouting of Justice Department charging policies. Manafort’s two-count plea deal in the District of Columbia is a good example.The count one conspiracy charged money laundering, a 20-year felony, as one of the objectives. Saliently, money laundering has its own conspiracy provision (Section 1956(h)), which also calls for a penalty of up to 20 years’ imprisonment. When Congress thinks a crime is important enough to have its own conspiracy provision, federal prosecutors are supposed to charge that provision, since it reflects the punishment Congress has directed for that conduct.Yet, to shield Manafort from Congress’s intended penalty, Mueller allowed him to plead guilty under the penal code’s catch-all conspiracy provision, Section 371. This section has a maximum penalty of five years and is supposed to apply only to less serious crimes that do not have their own conspiracy provision. Federal prosecutors are not supposed to frustrate congressional intent by charging the catch-all conspiracy when the underlying conduct (here, money laundering) has a conspiracy provision that calls for a more severe sentence (here, 20 years).Indeed, the reason why Manafort’s sentencing guidelines are so much higher than the statutory penalties for the crimes charged is that the guidelines are driven by how Congress rates the criminal conduct involved, whereas Mueller did not charge the statutes that correlate to that conduct.An example: Let’s say a defendant committed two money-laundering felonies. That would add up to 40 years of statutory exposure. The guidelines reflect how seriously Congress takes money laundering. If sentencing practice is working properly, the guidelines range should be within the statutory range. The statutes state a wide range that accounts for all possible money-laundering offenses, from the least serious to the most serious (in our two-count example, zero to 40 years). The guidelines, by contrast, more narrowly reflect the defendant’s actual conduct, which should fall someplace between least and most serious. Thus, if the defendant in our example pled guilty to the two 20-year counts, it would make sense for the guidelines to calculate a range of 210 to 262 months, comfortably within this 40-year statutory range.To shield Manafort, however, Mueller avoided charging the applicable 20-year conspiracy count. He instead charged the five-year conspiracy count, far below what Congress and the Sentencing Commission have indicated is a commensurate penalty for money laundering.The second conspiracy count to which Manafort pled guilty involved witness tampering. The witness-tampering provision Mueller cited, Section 1512(b)(1), prescribes a 20-year offense. Like money laundering, witness tampering has its own conspiracy provision, which makes the penalty 20 years. Yet, once again, instead of charging Manafort under Congress’s witness-tampering provision, Mueller charged him under Section 371, insulating him from the harsher sentence.Bottom line: Yes, Judge Ellis could have imposed a much more severe sentence; and Judge Jackson could have imposed a harsher total sentence by maxing out the two five-year counts (120 months) and running them consecutively to Ellis’s 47-month term — that would have made for a 167-month sentence, instead of 90 months.Nevertheless, if you want to know why Manafort faced comparatively limited prison time today, blame Special Counsel Mueller. Under federal law, conspiracies to commit money laundering and witness tampering should have carried an aggregate 40 years of statutory exposure. That would have enabled the judge to impose a stiff guidelines sentence of between 210 and 262 months. But the special counsel invoked the wrong conspiracy statutes to spare Manafort greater punishment.When the prosecutor bends the rules to be lenient, it signals to the court that leniency is in order.



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Covington Catholic student's lawyer plans lawsuit against CNN after suing Washington Post

Covington Catholic student's lawyer plans lawsuit against CNN after suing Washington PostL. Lin Wood, attorney for Nick Sandmann, says CNN was 'more vicious' in coverage as reason for planned lawsuit that could be more than $ 250 million.



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Washington wants to know if Pakistan used U.S.-built jets to down Indian warplane

Washington wants to know if Pakistan used U.S.-built jets to down Indian warplanePakistan and India both carried out aerial bombing missions this week, including a clash on Wednesday that saw an Indian pilot shot down over the disputed region of Kashmir in an incident that alarmed global powers and sparked fears of a war. A Pakistan military spokesman on Wednesday denied Indian claims that Pakistan used F-16 jets. Pakistan returned the captured Indian pilot on Friday in a high-profile handover Islamabad touted as a “peace gesture”, which appeared to significantly dial down tensions, but both sides remain on high alert.



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Klobuchar and Kennedy kid Washington elite at Gridiron

Klobuchar and Kennedy kid Washington elite at GridironWASHINGTON (AP) — If a woman can be president, can a woman also tell a dirty joke? Amy Klobuchar thinks so.



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Washington cranks up Venezuela sanctions as Guaido tours South America

Washington cranks up Venezuela sanctions as Guaido tours South AmericaVenezuelan military officials last weekend blocked an opposition-backed effort to bring food into the country via its borders with Colombia and Brazil, leaving two aid trucks in flames and five people dead. Guaido, who is recognized by most Western nations as Venezuela’s rightful leader, visited Paraguay and Argentina on Friday to shore up Latin American support for a transition government for the crisis-stricken nation. Following a meeting with Argentine President Mauricio Macri in Buenos Aires, Guaido said, without providing evidence, that 80 percent of Venezuela’s military nonetheless supported a change in leadership and that he would continue to seek the support of officers.



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Venezuela: Washington not seeking to intervene 'militarily', claims official who oversaw US intervention in Nicaragua

Venezuela: Washington not seeking to intervene 'militarily', claims official who oversaw US intervention in NicaraguaThe official who oversaw the US’s efforts to overthrow the government of Nicaragua, has claimed Washington is not seeking to intervene “militarily” to oust Venezuela’s Nicolas Maduro. Elliott Abrams, a conservative hawk who three decades ago was convicted of lying to Congress over the Iran-Contra affair, claimed the US would take “appropriate action” against Mr Maduro and in support of opposition leader, Juan Guaido, who in January declared himself the country’s “legitimate” president. Speaking to reporters at the state department as the US treasury announced new sanctions targeting Venezuelan officials linked to Mr Maduro, Mr Elliott said Washington was speaking to other countries about how to put more pressure on the Latin American nation’s government, Reuters said.



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Some sighs of relief in Washington as Trump returns empty handed from Kim summit

Some sighs of relief in Washington as Trump returns empty handed from Kim summitTrump said he walked away from a deal because of Kim’s demands to lift all U.S.-led sanctions on North Korea in return for the denuclearization of its Yongbyon atomic complex but not others that the United States knows about. In contrast, North Korea’s foreign minister said Pyongyang offered to dismantle Yongbyon in return for a partial lifting of sanctions as a step toward better relations between the nations, technically still at war because the 1950-53 Korean War ended in an armistice rather than a peace treaty. Before the summit, there were hints Washington was open to declaring an end to the war, some sanctions relief, and opening of liaison offices, a first step toward diplomatic ties, if the North reined in its nuclear program.



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North Korea summit: Why Trump's failure to reach a deal is being lauded in Washington

North Korea summit: Why Trump's failure to reach a deal is being lauded in WashingtonLawmakers and national security experts were worried about Trump falling for half-measures or false promises from the North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.



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Saudi Arabia replaces envoy to Washington: royal decree

Saudi Arabia replaces envoy to Washington: royal decreeSaudi Arabia has replaced its ambassador to the United States, a royal decree announced Saturday, as the fallout over journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s murder tests relations between the two allies. Princess Rima bint Bandar was appointed the kingdom’s first woman envoy to Washington, replacing Prince Khalid bin Salman, who was named vice defence minister. Prince Khalid is the younger brother of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the country’s de facto ruler who also serves as the defence minister.



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