On Thursday night, the liberal media had to grapple with the surprising prison sentence of 47 months for former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort by Judge T.S. Ellis. And for MSNBC’s Hardball, the “shocking” and racist decision was characterized as a “breach of justice” by Ellis that’s placed trust in American government “in jeopardy” in favor of allowing his “puppet strings” to be pulled by Moscow.
NBC intelligence and national security reporter Ken Dilanian set the table by calling it “a shocker” since 47 months was far lower than the suggested “19 to 24-and-a-half years” and host Chris Matthews agreed that it’s “shocking news.”
MSNBC legal analyst Glenn Kirschner then spouted off (click “expand”):
As a former prosecutor, I’m embarrassed. As an American, I’m upset because, you know, what did we hear Paul Manafort say after he landed the position as Trump’s campaign chairman? “How do I use this to get hole with the Russians?” And a Judge Ellis will basically throw that out the window in favor of giving him a sentence that is so far below the guidelines that it is an outrage. And you know, just as proud as I was to be in the courtroom when Judge Emmet Sullivan called out Mike Flynn for being a traitor for the country and disrespecting everything the flag stands for, I am just as disappointed with Judge Ellis who apparently knows better than the guidelines sentencing commission who said for these crimes this man deserves 19 to 24 years and he said 47 months. It’s an outrage and disrespectful of the American people.
Matthews joked that 47 months sounded like a sentence for “knocking off a convenience store” and legal analyst Paul Butler replied that, well, Ellis was racist for giving Manafort (who’s white) a shorter sentence: “To be a rich white man in America, you get a whole different kind of justice….If his name was Kwame or Pedro, he would be going up the river.”
The Daily Beast’s Betsy Woodruff was more straightforward, asserting that “[t]here’s no way to interpret this sentence as anything other than Judge Ellis delivering a stunning criticism of the Mueller investigation.”
“What’s he got [sic] the bee in his bonnet about Mueller? Is it that he really thinks it’s a miscarriage, Paul? He really thinks it’s a miscarriage or he doesn’t like the Democrats — what — climbing on or rolling up the score? What is that it’s bugging him,” Matthews replied.
Showing how melodramatic cable news types have become regarding Russia, Butler declared: “Judge Amy Berman Jackson, our nation turns its lonely eyes to you. Next week in that sentencing, you have the power to correct this tragic injustice.”
Along with Kirschner, The Beat’s Ari Melber went along with Butler’s race-based take, opining that “our legal system….does not operate with equal force from everyone and Paul Manafort got the special, clubby, Washington, elite-friendly treatment.”
Just when one thought there was enough crazy to go around, MSNBC terrorism analyst Malcolm Nance upped the ante, declaring that Ellis’s decision has both “abdicated” and “place[d] in jeopardy people’s trust in the system” by endorsing a belief “that the America system of government has a separate rail and that this rail should apply to people like Paul Manafort.”
Matthews must have decided that everyone else was having too much fun aboard the crazy train, so he hopped on with this rant to Congressman Mike Quigley (D-IL):
What more do you guys need to impeach? It seems to me we have the broad daylight robbery of our Constitution right in front of our faces and all the other stuff with Russia, working for the other side and they are the other side, the Russians. All this stuff has been going on in plain daylight. It’s all there.. What more do you guys want?
Later in the hour, Kirschner opined that he’s “a big believer in the judiciary, but what we just saw was an unjust result” and “Bob Mueller will get the last laugh” because “a conspiracy indictment is coming” and the Mueller team could try to charge Manafort again. Talk about scary stuff.
To close out the show, Matthews and Nance went back-and-forth suggesting Judge Ellis was fixed with “puppet strings” with Manafort and Trump to do the bidding of Moscow, hoping that Mueller gets even by “throw[ing] a secret haymaker” (click “expand”):
MATTHEWS: Malcolm, how they viewing this in Moscow you think today? Is Putin saying: “My buddy got off the — off pretty easy today. Didn’t he?” What do they think of our justice system? A guy that was facing up to 20 years got four, less than four. Malcolm?
NANCE: I think the Kremlin believes that they — they now have managed to engineer the U.S. justice system by putting their man in the White House and through his influence or his, you know, his stature, he has managed to get someone who was really an agent of the Kremlin. Someone who has been paid by Moscow for almost two decades now to carry out their operations in the Ukraine and other parts of the world. You know, if I was Robert Mueller, I think now is the time to throw a secret haymaker. I would bring him up on Espionage Act charges for his contacts with Konstantin Kilimnik or something along the lines of conspiracy to defraud the United States. I wouldn’t let this stand and make it clear there are more tricks in the bag of the special counsel.
MATTHEWS: Well and Malcolm so much of this case against the President has been about his relations with Russia, the obstruction of justice matters, which I’ll deal with the next several moments, I expect. For example, getting — going — going to Comey, the head of the FBI, the top police force basically in this country — investigative unit and saying layoff my Director of National Security because he was dealing with Putin and dealing with Kislyak and everybody else. Lay off him.” And then he fires the FBI Director because he wouldn’t lay off and then he fires his Attorney General because he won’t — cause he recused himself and wouldn’t help Trump in this matter. Over and over again, the President has not only done stuff but doubled down in obstructing justice against himself and today, he must be having dessert at the white house. Your thoughts on that, Malcolm.
NANCE: Well, absolutely and again this shows the puppet strings go from Moscow to the White House and now down into the U.S. judiciary. Whether the judge had any influence on the President at all, that doesn’t matter. It’s the fact that — that the lawyer came out and said there was nothing to do with Moscow. That shows where the influence really lies.
To see the relevant transcript from MSNBC’s Hardball, click “expand.”