Washington Post / YouTube Paul Manafort strikes plea deal with...
Washington Post / YouTube

Legal analyst wizard Marcy Wheeler wrote that Manafort’s plea-deal was “pardon-proof.”

That got me thinking — what does that even mean?!  Certainly, the Prez has the power to pardon, and that power is pretty big, so how could a deal be “pardon proof” (beyond the fact that most of us know that the Prez can not pardon state crimes)?

So, I went over to Wheeler’s site, and this is how she explained her comment:

Here’s why this deal is pardon proof:

  1. Mueller spent the hour and a half delay in arraignment doing … something. It’s possible Manafort even presented the key parts of testimony Mueller needs from him to the grand jury this morning.
  2. The forfeiture in this plea is both criminal and civil, meaning DOJ will be able to get Manafort’s $46 million even with a pardon.
  3. Some of the dismissed charges are financial ones that can be charged in various states.

Remember, back in January, Trump told friends and aides that Manafort could incriminate him (the implication was that only Manafort could). I believe Mueller needed Manafort to describe what happened in a June 7, 2016 meeting between the men, in advance of the June 9 meeting. I have long suspected there was another meeting at which Manafort may be the only other Trump aide attendee.

And Manafort has probably already provided evidence on whatever Mueller needed.

So here’s what Robert Mueller just did: He sewed up the key witness to implicate the President, and he paid for the entire investigation.

Just.  Wow.  So, yeah, Mueller is a pretty smart guy, eh?

Questions remain:

–  I’m not exactly sure why Manafort took this deal.  Granted, it saves him at least $1M on defense attorney fees for a DC Criminal Court case that he was likely to lose.  But, still, his potential sentence is still pretty high for a 69-year old.   And surely Trump would have pardoned him, or commuted the sentence — but if Manafort is flipping, I don’t see Trump being quite so charitable.

– As a questioner on Wheeler’s blog put it: “How does Manafort’s cooperation work with the Joint Defense Agreement? I haven’t seen anything about him switching representation a la Rick Gates.”

– Another commenter wrote: “Mildly interesting that Westling was the lead lawyer in the courtroom today and not Downing.”  Wheeler simply responded: “That is interesting.”

Hey, all, give Marcy Wheeler some love — at least click on her story.  www.emptywheel.net/…

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This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.


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