Paul Manafort's Cooperation Probably Doesn't Mean What the Resistance Thinks It Means

Paul Manafort, right, President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman, arrives at Federal District Court for a hearing, Wednesday, May 23, 2018, in Washington. ( AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

Paul Manafort, right, President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman, arrives at Federal District Court for a hearing, Wednesday, May 23, 2018, in Washington. ( AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

 

Yesterday, former Trump campaign manager, delegate wrangler, and alleged Russian mob fixer Paul Manafort pleaded guilty in federal court in Washington, D.C. to two felony charges. One was pretty much the chickensh** we’ve come to expect of Mueller’s team. Manafort pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice relating to him making telephone calls to people he planned to call as witnesses for his defense. Mueller essentially criminalized exercising your rights under the Sixth Amendment. The second guilty plea was to an overarching “conspiracy against the United States” charge that encompassed the tax fraud and money laundering charges that an Eastern District of Virginia jury hung on last month.

In return, Manafort agreed to cooperate fully with Mueller’s prosecutors and his he was promised the prosecution would ask for a sentence of no more than ten years. As Manafort is 69 years old, the possibility of not dying in prison had to weigh heavily in his decision. In fact, it is entirely possible that Manafort will serve something less than 10 years of the potential 80-90 years he would be eligible for had the figurative book been thrown at him.

“One thing I can conclusively say is Manafort would have been facing a life sentence and my expectation is he will receive somewhere between three to seven years in jail for everything put together,” Seth B. Waxman, a former prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia, said, noting that Manafort will also get credit for time served.
Waxman called it shocking that Gates and former national security adviser Michael Flynn are now eligible for probation for agreeing to work with prosecutors.

“Mueller’s office is clearly willing to hand out sweetheart deals.”

Most of the media and the left was in a state of multiple orgasms over Manafort “flipping” on Trump but, as real lawyers and not Politico writers pointed out, Manafort got this deal because he’d already told prosecutors everything he had that was of any value. You only offer plea concessions when the defendant has delivered.

Here are a series of tweets that spell out the significance.

First up is Ken White who is known a @popehat on Twitter. He’s a former federal prosecutor and current defense attorney.

This a Democrat political hack from Illinois:

Shortly afterwards, NPR, hardly a pro-Trump outlet, was reporting:

And this seems to confirm it:

https://twitter.com/MarkSimoneNY/status/1040696222732959745

If we go back to Ken White’s tweets, we can assume that the scope of Manafort’s cooperation is revealed in the plea agreement. As that plea covers financial crimes, this makes sense:

And this:

If CNN and the New York Times are saying the same thing about Mueller’s intentions, you can take it to the bank.

Was Manafort’s plea agreement a “betrayal” of Trump? Sure, Manafort wanted to avoid life in prison. And he had some state criminal liability that a presidential pardon wouldn’t overcome (though I think Josh Gerstein is just writing Resistance porn here). But in a critical mid-term election, the last thing the GOP needed was a Manafort corruption trial going on.

In the end, I think this is a wash. Mueller got a conviction. He got the press release saying Manafort is cooperating. But the denouement here is really a warning to the Resistance that there isn’t any there there when it comes to collusion.

For the rest of us, this is probably best described by Winston Churchill, “Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”

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