With the Inspector General’s report coming out yesterday showing James Comey and others in a very bad light for potentially plotting against President Trump over this cooked up Russian collusion accusations, Robert Mueller is getting desperate for a win and he thinks that could be Paul Manafort. Many Americans and Congress are getting totally fed up with Mueller’s witch hunt. While Trump’s popularity keeps rising, Mueller’s keeps tanking. With more bias against Trump being uncovered every day, Mueller knows his time is short on all this.
From the beginning, Mueller has tried to dredge up any dirt on President Trump he could find. He has dug into his business dealings and has found nothing of substance. And there definitely is no solid connection to the Russians in the mix. Mueller has gone for those around Trump, such as Paul Manafort.
Manafort’s dealings do not connect him to Trump, but Mueller has gone into his business dealings and that may be considered an overreach of his boundaries in this investigative case. Manafort has not helped himself. He is now in trouble for alleged witness tampering. Manafort and Konstantin Kilimnik, a Russian national and longtime Manafort business associate, are charged with attempting to influence the testimony of two potential witnesses. He will find out today from a judge whether he will go to prison for that or not. But Manafort has nothing to give Mueller on Trump because there simply isn’t anything there. The previous sins of a former campaign manager do not translate to guilt for the president.
The witnesses are identified in court documents as D1 and D2 and they work for a public relations firm. The superseding indictment alleges that on Feb. 23, Manafort telephoned D1 and in the ensuing several days, he and Kilimnik used an encrypted text messaging application to contact D1 and D2. Their messages reminded D1 and D2 that their unregistered lobbying activity occurred in Europe and not in the United States where it would be illegal. Mueller argues that is contrary to the evidence in the case. In effect, Mueller argues, Manafort is implicitly asking them to lie to cover Manafort’s crime. While the evidence is very circumstantial, the superseding indictment alleges that D1 stated that he understood Manafort and Kilimnik’s outreach to be an effort to “suborn perjury.” Sounds to me like this is a real stretch to nail Manafort.
There is a chance after facing the judge today that Manafort could leave in handcuffs. He could have his bail conditions revised or revoked over the witness tampering charge. The 69-year-old lobbyist has come under increasing pressure from prosecutors as they slap him with numerous tax and financial crimes charges. They want him to flip on President Trump. That is unlikely to happen because there is nothing to ‘flip’ on. “Every gram of weight that they’re putting on Paul Manafort is designed to get him to give information to hurt the president,” Michael Caputo, a longtime friend of Manafort’s told ABC News. That’s undeniably true and Manafort’s attorneys are surely going to claim undue duress over all this.
There are three indictments with over 40 different charges against Manafort covering crimes such as money laundering, tax and bank fraud, and conspiracy, all of which took place prior to working on the Trump campaign. Some of them, decades ago. If Manafort were going to cut a deal, he would have done so already. There’s nothing to deal. Prosecutors are bullying this man and destroying his life over charges that have been dredged up simply because he is connected to President Trump. Mueller wants his pound of flesh before he’s pushed out of the limelight here.
Many argue that the motion to revoke bond for Manafort is a hardball tactic by Mueller to force him to come to the table and cooperate in the Russia investigation. If Manafort is jailed, the thinking goes, he will feel more pressure to start talking immediately. This is not going to happen here. It seems more likely that Mueller is prosecuting what he ‘alleges’ to be a serious crime.
Manafort was charged in October 2017 in federal court in the District of Columbia with failing to register as a foreign agent, conspiring to launder money and making false statements, among other crimes, in relation to his lobbying activity for the government of Ukraine and political parties there. Manafort was later charged in the Eastern District of Virginia with bank fraud and tax violations. His co-defendant in both cases, former Trump deputy campaign chairman Richard Gates, has pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate with the government. It is a maximum pressure campaign to entrap a sitting president and should be stopped.
A judge will have the final say. Manafort will learn whether he must await trial in prison or can remain on house arrest following allegations that he tried to obstruct the Russia inquiry. It does not look good for Manafort, but again, this does not transpose to President Trump. That’s why Mueller is so desperate.
He’ll just have to live with that.