At present, former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort is the only former Trump associate who has faced scrutiny from Special Counsel for the Russia investigation Robert Mueller and not complied. That, though, was recently set to change, according to the Wall Street Journal.
According to the outlet, last week, as jurors deliberated over Manafort’s fate following his first trial in Virginia, his team was in talks with Mueller’s camp for a plea deal ahead of a second Manafort trial scheduled for D.C. area court later this year. The Virginia trial focused on financial crimes associated with his years of secretive work for pro-Kremlin interests, and the D.C. trial focuses on some of the more political aspects.
In Virginia, a jury found the disgraced former Republican operative guilty on eight counts of fraud. In light of the special counsel’s compelling evidence, the president’s former campaign manager might be inclined to strike a deal and avoid the spectacle of a second guilty verdict — but for now, that plan’s a no-go, according to the Journal. The outlet did not identify specifics of a potential Manafort-Mueller deal, and neither did it identify the objections to the arrangements that prompted the special counsel’s team to withdraw from the negotiations.
For now, though, what is certain is that Manafort is on the fast track to yet another very public explanation and condemnation of his guilt. Whereas in the Virginia fraud trial, Mueller’s team brought out nearly 400 pieces of evidence, they revealed not that long ago to have well over 1,000 pieces of evidence prepared for Manafort’s September trial. The mountains of evidence mostly don’t overlap, although D.C. area Judge Amy Jackson, who’s handling the case, admonished Mueller’s team to present their case as efficiently as possible.
The developments stand as especially ironic considering Manafort’s past belligerence. He filed a lawsuit earlier this year claiming Mueller to have overstepped his authority, but he lost that bid. In the fallout, it came out that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who appointed Mueller in the first place, had specifically permitted the special counsel to investigate any Manafort criminal activity he uncovered, whether or not it specifically constituted Trump team collusion with Russia to tilt the 2016 elections.
Although Manafort may have been open to giving up fighting the special counsel, his former boss — President Donald Trump — surely isn’t.
As recently as Saturday, he wrote on Twitter:
‘Highly conflicted Bob Mueller and his gang of 17 Angry Dems are having a field day as real corruption goes untouched. No Collusion!’
After Manafort was formally found guilty, he bemoaned what had been done to him — although the whole point is that nobody did anything to Manafort. He’s guilty. He did it.
Trump is facing continued pressure from other fronts too. The same day the Virginia jury found Manafort guilty, his former lawyer Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to eight felonies including two campaign finance law violations in which he implicated the president. Trump has lashed out over that too, suggesting Cohen lied — but he’s not the decider of truth, no matter how often he acts that way.
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