AP Photo/Alex Brandon
- A federal judge is scheduled to decide Paul Manafort’s prison sentence on March 8.
- Manafort’s youngest daughter asked the judge to be lenient on her father, who could serve up to 25 years.
- Hacked text messages appear to indicate the same daughter came to believe her father was complicit in the murder of Ukrainians.
The youngest daughter of Paul Manafort, the former Trump campaign chairman convicted of multiple felonies related to foreign lobbying, told a Virginia judge on Monday that her father deserved leniency because he is “a living example of selfless and generosity.”
But hacked text messages alleged to be between Manafort’s children, whose contents have been published and dissected by a number of major media outlets, cast her plea in a very different light.
While Manafort’s elder daughter Jessica, 36, declined to write a statement of impact, his younger, daughter Andrea Manafort Shand, 33, offered a four-page letter to Judge Amy Berman Jackson, portraying her father as a devoted parent and loving spouse who taught her that “family, friends, and community are more important than everything else.”
Yet in an exchange from March 2015, Shand appeared to tell her older sister that their father "has no moral or legal compass" and that he “killed people in Ukraine … knowingly."
In other messages allegedly between the sisters, portions of which Business Insider published in March 2017, Andrea appeared to admit that their family’s wealth came from “blood money.”
The messages seem to refer to Manafort’s work for Viktor Yanukovych, the former president of Ukraine, and his government’s response to widespread protests in February 2014. Dozens of protestors died during the crackdown in Kiev’s Independence Square.
Unidentified hackers exfiltrated more than 285,000 messages from Shand’s iPhone backup files sometime in 2016, and copies of them began to appear on the dark web in early 2017. The journalist Emma Best published the full archive of the purported texts on her personal website in July 2018.
While the authenticity of the messages have yet to be definitively confirmed by either sister, Paul Manafort confirmed to Politico last year that his youngest daughter was hacked, and that at least some of the messages were from his daughter. Reporters at other mainstream news outlets — including HuffPost, Vice, and CNN — have treated the messages as real.
Manafort’s attorneys attached daughter’s letter, along with thirteen other letters written by Manafort’s family members and friends, to a sentencing memorandum also filed on Monday. The filing said Manafort’s crimes were obscure and rarely prosecuted, and characterized his convictions as collateral damage of Robert Mueller’s ongoing investigation into Russian interference.
Manafort’s wife, Kathleen, submitted a letter of support to the court, too. Manafort’s oldest daughter, Jessica, who did not supply a letter, adopted her mother’s maiden name, Bond, last year, in an effort to disassociate herself from her father’s case.
Shand’s letter, by contrast, suggests her private misgivings don’t negate her familial loyalty to her father. “My dad showed me what it means to be a family — to always love and support one another, unequivocally, especially when times are tough,” she wrote.
Shand and Bond did not respond to requests for comment. Attorneys for Manafort, currently being held in a Virginia jail, didn’t respond either. We will update this post if we hear back.
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