Victoria Pickering / Flickr Paul Manafort...
Victoria Pickering / Flickr

 

Why June 15, 2018 Could Be an Amazing Day for Paul Manafort, Robert Mueller and Democracy

     It is possible that June 15, 2018 will be the day on which Paul Manafort begins spending the rest of his life behind bars. Donald Trump’s Campaign Manager, the person who sat next to Jared Kushner and Donald Trump, Jr. as they plotted with Russian spies to steal an American election, may begin a life sentence in a little over a week’s time.

There are only three somewhat plausible reasons he won’t.

First, there is the possibility that Manafort begins cooperating with the Special Counsel. Second, Donald Trump could pardon him at some point. Third, the judge could decide to allow Manafort to remain in home detention at the hearing on June 15. Let’s look at these possibilities—and their legal and political ramifications—one at a time. We’ll start with that third possibility.

1.      THE JUDGE’S RULING

On June 15, a Federal Judge will decide whether Paul Manafort has violated the conditions of his pre-trial release in such a way that he must be placed in immediate custody. If you have had a chance to review the Special Counsel’s motion and the attached affidavits and exhibits, you will probably agree with me that Manafort is most likely to be remanded to supervised custody by the Judge.

The Government has produced substantial proof that Manafort engaged in witness tampering, if not suborning perjury. This is an open and shut case. The Government attached documents which conclusively show that Manafort asked witnesses to lie, that Manafort knew that what he was asking the witnesses to do was lie, and that Manafort did all of this with intent to conceal his actions from the Government and the court.

It is almost certain, in my mind, that the Judge will order Manafort into custody.

Of course, there is the issue of rich, white man privilege. Unlike, say, a person arrested for bank robbery or drug conspiracy, the Judge may allow Manafort a few days to “tidy up his affairs.” Still, even that is a temporary stay of a life sentence.

Right now, Manafort is in a struggle to salvage precious days of freedom. I wouldn’t put it past him to fire his attorneys, and then ask the Judge for a continuance so that his new attorneys can get up to speed. In fact, I expect his attorneys to walk into court with a Motion for Continuance. Again, at best, this is a temporary stay of a life sentence.

2.     A TRUMP PARDON

It is very unlikely, given the politics and the legal ramifications, that Trump will pardon Manafort any time soon. A pardon, if issued, would keep Manafort out of federal prison. You can bet that Trump would like to issue one just because he and his son and son-in-law are at grave risk from what Manafort might do.

Manafort has been indicted in Washington, D.C. on charges of conspiracy, money laundering, and making false statements. He has been indicted in Virginia on charges of tax, bank and financial fraud. A pardon, immediately after the Government has alleged that Manafort tampered with witnesses, would begin the mother of all constitutional crises.

I don’t see this as likely, even though, as the next section explains, Manafort represents the gravest of threats to Trump and his kin.

3.     COOPERATION WITH ROBERT MUELLER

Up until June15, 2018, Paul Manafort has enjoyed the best of rich, white man privilege. He has been on home detention awaiting trial. Manafort has been able to eat what he wants, when he wants, and he’s been able to entertain himself with what he wants, when he wants, be it friends, family, TV, the internet, sex, stamp collecting, etc.

That all comes to an end.

Manafort must know this. No more double-breasted suits, Chardonnay, or Eggs Benedict. No more Netflix or cigars. No more privacy or independence. Paul Manafort’s brain is, at this minute, squirming like a toad.

In eight days, he might begin the next and final phase of his life. Behind bars. Yet, there is some hope for the poor dear. He could give up Trump.

We know of three people who sat in the Trump Tower meeting with the Russian spies who plotted to help Trump win an election. Paul Manafort, Donald Trump, Jr. and Jared Kushner. What we don’t know is what came from that meeting. All we’ve heard is self-serving bullshit from Kushner and Trump, Jr. that the meeting didn’t go anywhere. It didn’t produce results.

Why should we believe Kushner or Trump, Jr. now?

It is a common media fiction to believe that nothing came of that meeting. Yet, there is one guy who may testify about what happened and what Trump knew about it. Moreover, Manafort can give an insider’s look into five months in the Trump campaign rife with meetings with Russians and Saudis and others.

Manafort now has an incentive to deal, and Special Counsel Mueller will want to hear him out.

4.  Political Ramifications

A cooperation agreement between the Office of the Special Counsel and Donald Trump’s Campaign Manager would be the final nail in the coffin of “Witch Hunt” and “Fake News.” Sure, the orange goblin will still spout those phrases, but they will be turned especially hollow.

Everybody from Lewandowski and Pence to Lou Dobbs and the rest of the Fox News cretins have made recent, specific pleas to have the investigation end. If Mueller can obtain cooperation from the one witness who can tell the world what really happened during the Trump Tower meeting, who can give up Kushner and Don, Jr. (and possibly the President), and who can detail all of the evil shenanigans of the Trump Mafia over a five-month period, that chorus will be silenced.

There have been those who have suggested that Manafort cannot give Mueller anything that he can’t get elsewhere. That’s not true. Unless he can flip Don, Jr. or Jared Kushner, this is the Special Counsel’s entrée into the Trump Tower meeting. Gates cannot do that. Also, Manafort had day-to-day dealings with Trump and the Trump family.

     Michael Cohen no doubt knows many Trump secrets, but he has been kept outside of the Trump presidency and campaign for a reason. 

As a Post Script,

I have never bought the argument that Manafort would be more afraid of Russians than of spending the rest of his life in prison. This is especially true of rich guys. That choice has just become a concrete reality for Manafort.

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