- Real fight begins in courts of public opinion and appeal
ALEXANDRIA, VA – The verdict is in. Special Counsel Mueller and his team were able to secure a guilty finding on 8 out of the 18 counts they brought against 2016 Trump Campaign Manager Paul Manafort. After a 2-week trial, the jury deliberated for 4 days before convicting Manafort of 5 counts of subscribing to false income tax returns, 1 count of failing to report his foreign accounts, and 2 counts of bank fraud and could not come to a unanimous decision on the remainder.
However, none of the charges against Manafort were for campaign collusion with Russia, a simple fact which defense attorneys highlighted in pre-trial motions seeking to have the case thrown out as an overreach exceeding the authority of Mueller and his team. Judge T.S. Ellis allowed the matter to proceed to trial despite those motions, but at one point he too seemed to question whether Mueller’s office could bring a case which seemingly has nothing to do with campaign collusion and instead targets actions taken before the 2016 presidential race.
In May, Judge Ellis asked to review the exact wording of the classified mandate which Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein had given to Mueller when he was appointed so that he could ensure Mueller was acting within his authority to bring these pre-campaign charges against Manafort. Mueller’s team tried to keep Judge Ellis in the dark and effectively asked him to take their word for it, before Ellis ordered Mueller’s office to provide him with the information under seal and told them, “I’ll be the judge.”
Mueller’s probe has also faced steady criticism from President Trump as well as from Harvard Law School Professor Emeritus – and registered Democrat – Alan Dershowitz, who has repeatedly taken to the press to urge Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein – a registered Republican – to call an end to the Russia investigation.
Eventually though, the U.S. Court of Appeals may decide whether Mueller overstepped his bounds should Manafort seek relief there. Such appeals usually take over a year in federal cases.
That’s plenty of time for the public to weigh in on the verdict. Midterm elections are scheduled for November 6thand they are likely to serve as a referendum on the ongoing Mueller controversy.
In the meantime, Manafort has been remanded back into custody, where he has been since his bail was revoked on June 15th after Mueller’s team accused him of attempted witness tampering by contacting past colleagues –who had not yet been named as potential witnesses and who he had not been warned not to contact – in an apparent attempt to confirm the scope of past business dealings which had become the subject of controversy. He now awaits sentencing. It’s possible, though unlikely, that he could be released on bail pending the outcome of his appeal.
The guilty verdict is Mueller’s first trial against 4 indicted Trump campaign staffers. Last December, retired Army Lieutenant General Michael Flynn pleaded guilty to charges of lying to the FBI which were brought by Mueller and his team. Those charges quickly followed the appointment of Mueller as a special counsel immediately after President Trump fired former FBI Director James Comey for mishandling the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private email server.
Like Flynn, Manafort had also initially agreed to plead guilty. He later changed his mind and opted to go to trial.
Critics of Mueller are quick to point out that while Flynn and Manafort were prosecuted for comparatively minor allegations, Hillary Clinton is yet to be indicted despite numerous controversies, including the so-called “emailgate scandal”, the overrunning of the U.S. embassy in Benghazi, her role at the Clinton Foundation, the Uranium One deal, and the alleged rigging of the 2016 Democratic primary. Prior to publication, a spokesperson for Hillary Clinton did not return a request for comment as to the last time Mrs. Clinton or anyone on her staff paid a parking ticket.
Anthony Weiner, a.k.a. “Carlos Danger,” was not immediately available for comment regarding the Clinton State Department emails which were found on his former laptop, thereby triggering then-FBI Director James Comey to go rogue days before the 2016 presidential election. Weiner pled guilty to a federal obscenity charge after sexting with a minor and received a 21 month sentence.
Manafort now faces a maximum of 80 years when he is sentenced at a later date. Mueller’s team also has a second trial against Manafort scheduled in D.C. for September.
Marty Gottesfeld is considered a prisoner of the Massachusetts Democratic establishment for helping to save the life of medical kidnapping victim Justina Pelletier when she was endangered by Harvard-affiliated Boston Children’s Hospital (BCH). To donate, learn more about him, or follow him on social media, go to www.FreeMartyG.com. This article first appeared here.