Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort is scheduled to go on trial September 17 in Washington, DC on charges of obstruction of justice, money laundering, conspiracy, and acting as an unregistered foreign agent. If convicted, he could spend the rest of his life in federal prison.
But it now looks like Manafort may be ready to tell Special Counsel Robert Mueller everything he knows about the president’s conspiracy with Russia in order to save his own skin.
Late Friday evening, Bloomberg reported that attorneys for Manafort are in talks with Mueller’s team of prosecutors about their client pleading guilty and avoiding the upcoming trial. If indeed Manafort does agree to such a deal, it would likely contain a reduction in his sentence if he does indeed agree to spill the beans on Donald Trump and others in the Russiagate conspiracy.
Even if Manafort doesn’t agree to tell everything he knows to Mueller, he would still be able to harm Trump with his testimony. Once he accepts the plea deal, Manafort loses his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, meaning he could be placed before a grand jury and asked endless questions regarding what he knows about the Russia matter.
Former U.S. Attorney Joyce Vance commented on the Bloomberg report via Twitter:
Two options: Manafort can plead guilty & receive a sentencing recommendation reduced to reflect his acceptance of responsibility or he can cooperate with prosecutors, which, if he has something of value to offer, could result in a greatly reduced sentence. https://t.co/xiLTpt3btO
— Joyce Alene (@JoyceWhiteVance) September 7, 2018
In other words, if Trump thought excerpts from the new Bob Woodward book, combined with the anonymous op-ed by a member of his staff published by the New York Times were bad news, the fact that Manafort is reaching out to Mueller must have him frantic because it’s believed Manafort was the person who arranged the contacts with Russian figures thanks to his own business interests in Russia.
And it also means that this tweet from the president not long after Manafort was convicted in Virginia was not only premature, but also painfully ironic:
I feel very badly for Paul Manafort and his wonderful family. “Justice” took a 12 year old tax case, among other things, applied tremendous pressure on him and, unlike Michael Cohen, he refused to “break” – make up stories in order to get a “deal.” Such respect for a brave man!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 22, 2018