04:31 GMT14 August 2020
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    President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, was sentenced in a pair of federal cases earlier this year as part of former US Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation.

    New York judge Maxwell Wiley dismissed on Wednesday a state mortgage fraud indictment against Manafort, citing double jeopardy laws, Fox News reported.

    According to the ruling, the factual overlap between the state and federal cases “is extensive - if not total”. State law reportedly precludes prosecution because the criminal case was too similar to that which previously landed Manafort in federal prison.

    The indictment alleges that Manafort, 70, gave false and misleading information in applying for residential mortgage loans, starting in 2015 and continuing until three days before the 2017 inauguration of US President Donald Trump.

    Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance reportedly said his office would appeal the court's decision, according to Fox News.

    Following the ruling, Todd Blanche, Manafort's defence attorney, said that the indictment "was politically motivated and violated New York’s statutory double jeopardy law", adding that, "this indictment should never have been brought, and today’s decision is a stark reminder that the law and justice should always prevail over politically-motivated actions".

    Manafort was sentenced in March 2019 to roughly seven years in jail in connection with the two cases. A federal jury in Virginia convicted him on eight counts of bank and tax fraud and he pleaded guilty in a Washington court to charges related to foreign lobbying and witness tampering.

    According to Fox News, Manafort was not present in court on Wednesday due to a purported health issue. He reportedly had a heart-related condition and was transferred last week from a federal prison in Pennsylvania to a hospital.

    The Mueller report, released by the Justice Department in April, found no evidence of collusion between Trump and his campaign, or any Trump associate, with Russia in the 2016 US presidential election campaign.

    Trump slammed the probe as a political witch hunt intended to reverse the result of the 2016 election. Russian officials have said the allegations were made up to excuse the election loss of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, as well as deflect public opinion away from actual instances of election fraud and corruption.


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