Mueller Is Very, Very Serious About Putting Manafort in Jail and He May Have Succeeded

FILE - In this April 21, 2016 file photo, attorney and former FBI Director Robert Mueller, right, arrives for a court hearing at the Phillip Burton Federal Building in San Francisco. Mueller has been overseeing settlement talks with Volkswagen, the U.S. government and private lawyers. Mueller is being honored with an award from West Point. The U.S. Military Academy’s Association of Graduates will present the Thayer Award to Mueller on Thursday evening, Oct. 6, 2016. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File)

Former FBI Director Robert Mueller, the special counsel probing Russian interference in the 2016 election, departs Capitol Hill following a closed door meeting, Wednesday, June 21, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)



On Tuesday, the special counsel’s team unleashed an unexpected assault on Paul Manafort. The prosecutors claimed that Manafort was involved in witness tampering and asked for his bail to be revoked.

The affidavit used looked a little skimpy. The calls made by Manafort totaled under two minutes and the only evidence is that one person perceived that was the purpose of the call.

This is from the Trump-hostile LawFareBlog.

But direct evidence against Manafort is almost nonexistent. Saying “we should talk” and “I want to give you an update” or a “heads-up” is hardly the stuff that true witness-tampering charges are made of. And, more to the point, if the entire conversation in which Manfort participated lasted for less than a minute and a half, he’d have to be a very, very fast talker to have accomplished tampering.

So what is going on here? Why would Mueller’s team, whose actions to date have been premised on overwhelming evidence, take this risk and go out on this evidentiary limb?

My speculation is simple: This is a sign that they are feeling pressure. Possibly from Trump. Possibly from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. Possibly just from their reading of the public tea leaves. Whatever the source of the pressure, they have an increased sense of urgency to move quickly.

And that translates to the want, and need, for Manafort’s cooperation. Not later but now. And the only way to get that cooperation now is to ramp up the pressure. The motion, if successful, would put Manafort in jail sooner rather than later, at the end of what promises to be a lengthy trial. That would concentrate Manafort’s mind quite a bit—and this is the type of pressure tactic that prosecutors use all the time. So that isn’t a surprise.

What is surprising, as I have said, is how thin the factual basis appears to be for these charges. I hope that the Mueller team isn’t rushing its effort. Now is no time to panic.


But Mueller’s people have taken what looked to be a bluff and turned it into something approaching a winning hand.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller brought an additional indictment against former Trump-campaign chairman Paul Manafort Friday afternoon, superseding two previous indictments related to Manafort’s prior foreign-lobbying work.

The new indictment adds Konstantin Kilimnik, who previously managed Manafort’s lobbying operations in Ukraine, as a defendant, and charges both men with conspiracy to obstruct justice and obstruction of justice.

The charges, brought by a grand jury empaneled in Washington, D.C., stem from the pair’s alleged efforts to tamper with witnesses.

The indictment comes days after prosecutors asked the presiding judge to revoke Manafort’s bail because of an alleged attempt at witness tampering. The prosecutors, working at Mueller’s behest, claimed that Manafort and one of his long-time business associates reached out to two employees at a public-relations firm formerly in their employ and asked the pair to lie about the nature of the secret lobbying work at issue in Manafort’s case, the Washington Post reported late Monday.

What he did was present the same affidavit he’s using to revoke bond to a grand jury and got them to return an indictment of witness tampering. That doesn’t mean that the evidence is any more substantial than it was but it means that while on bail Manafort has now been charged with committing a crime. That is not only grounds for sending him to jail until trial but it presents a substantial obstacle to his legal team. This is Ken White, aka Popehat. White is mostly a reliable analyst of legal matters…except when it comes to Trump where he acts a lot like a high strung Pomeranian peeing on your floor in excitement.



This is very much in line with the MO that you saw of veteran thug and Hillary Clinton partisan Andrew Weissmann in the Enron and Arthur Andersen cases:

Next, Weissmann creatively criminalized a business transaction between Merrill Lynch and Enron. Four Merrill executives went to prison for as long as a year. Weissmann’s team made sure they did not even get bail pending their appeals, even though the charges Weissmann concocted, like those against Andersen, were literally unprecedented.

And the Supreme Court repudiated Weissmann’s tactics and the convictions he obtained.

As I speculated, the Mueller team is desperate because there is literally no Russia-linked crime. The earlier batch of indictments he had issued against thirteen Russians–who may or may not even exist–and three Russian companies–one of which did not exist during the 2016 campaign–are turning into jokes. His other catches have been on process offenses. Flynn, in particular, was judged to be telling the truth by FBI investigators but Flynn was still forced to sell his home and bludgeoned into a guilty plea by Mueller. Manafort is now their main target and they are trying to force him into a guilty plea by having his bond revoked. One presumes the plea would show that he had untoward dealings with a Russian at some point so Mueller can claim he found the collusion that he’s been looking for.


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