Who’s getting the better deal – Manafort or Trump?

MSNBC / YouTube Reuters Paul Manafort Robert Mueller Plea...
MSNBC / YouTube

Josh Marshall pf TPM says “the fix is in” for Manafort’s plea, and the pardon from Trump is being “locked in’.

We’ll see on Friday, but Ryan Goodman reminds us that some things do need to remain in front of us, especially if Manafort pleads without cooperating.

The public record, absent a trial still provides the larger Mueller investigation with some key elements that will get prosecuted as Mueller goes farther up the chain.

Simply put, any fair reading of the public record would surely come to the conclusion that there is significant evidence of collusion–or, to put it more precisely, evidence of a conspiracy with Russians and violations of federal campaign finance law.

1. Manafort proposes to Putin-linked, Russian oligarch a plan to “greatly benefit Putin,” and they get to work (2005-)

2. Manafort joins Trump Campaign and stays in frequent contact with a Kiev-based operative with active ties to Russian military intelligence (March 2016-)

3. Manafort remains an unregistered foreign agent of Kremlin-linked Ukraine political forces

4. Trump Campaign is told Russia has damaging information against Clinton in the form of “thousands of emails,” and Manafort and Campaign then continue to try to set up meeting with Campaign representatives and senior Russian officials (April 2016 -)

5. Manafort and two senior Campaign officials meet with Russian government emissaries offering damaging information on Clinton (June 2016)

6. Manafort offers “private briefings” on the campaign to Putin-linked Russian oligarch (July 2016)

7. Manafort oversees Campaign when it intervenes to defeat a call for Republican Party platform to include a provision for arming Ukraine to defend itself against Russian incursions

8. Russian operatives reportedly discuss Russia’s efforts to coordinate with Manafort on the election and Manafort’s encouraging help from the Kremlin

9. Manafort officially resigns from the campaign, but reportedly continues to be involved up through the transition (August 2016-).

Manafort’s activities during the campaign are only one thread among others. Whether or not there will ever be “proof of collusion” established in a courtroom for example, there is significant evidence of collusion already in the public record.

Mariotti’s thread is very important to understand where the Manafort plea will stand. It appears that he’s counting on a pardon and my not have given up Trump.

Mueller gets the certainty of a guilty verdict—trials always have risks associated with them—and Manafort gets the minor benefits discussed in the thread:

1/ Today multiple outlets reported that Manafort is close to a plea deal with Mueller as to his upcoming trial in Washington D.C.

2/ @abcnews has gone further, reporting that a deal has been reached between Manafort and Mueller, although the details of the deal remain unknown.

3/ Pleading guilty pursuant to an agreement with Mueller does *NOT* necessarily mean that Manafort is cooperating. Based on everything we know, it is unlikely Manafort is cooperating. Most defendants in federal criminal cases plead guilty and but don’t receive cooperation deals.
4/ Why would a defendant plead guilty if he isn’t “flipping”? For one thing, the alternative is to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees on a multi-week trial that will almost certainly result in multiple guilty verdicts.
5/ By pleading guilty, Manafort also gets credit for “accepting responsibility” and making a “timely plea of guilty” that saves governmental resources, which gives him a modest reduction in his Federal Sentencing Guidelines range.
6/ He also gets the benefit of the judge sentencing him based solely on what she reads in documents, instead of watching many hours of testimony by witnesses about the details of Manafort’s crimes. In my experience, that is the most significant benefit of pleading guilty.
7/ Manafort does not need to reach a deal with Mueller in order to plead guilty. He has a right to go into court and plead guilty to all of the counts in the indictment. But typically prosecutors let a defendant plead guilty to a few counts (instead of all of them) in a deal.
8/ That’s because the judge is required to take into account the other crimes at sentencing even if the defendant hasn’t been convicted of those crimes. Typically, in the plea deal, the defendant acknowledges everything that he did (including the counts not pleaded to).
9/ To be clear, if Manafort pleads guilty, he will have to go into court and acknowledge what he did. He will also have to agree to surrender property that the government has sought to obtain via “forfeiture” because it was obtained via criminal activity or used in a crime.
10/ He also would still owe any “restitution”–he would have to pay back money that he owes to victims. The point of the plea deal would be that everyone would be spared the time and expense of the trial, and in exchange Manafort would get the minor benefits discussed above.
11/ That doesn’t mean that Manafort won’t “flip.” I have no inside info on that. But the fact that he’s pleading guilty doesn’t tell us anything about that, and based on everything else we know, it doesn’t seem likely. If anything, it looks like he is angling for a pardon.
12/ Nothing about him pleading guilty would impact a pardon, unless Trump got upset that he didn’t go to trial. I assume that Manafort’s lawyers discussed this matter with Trump’s lawyers before he decided to plead guilty.

Giuliani also confirmed that Trump’s lawyers and Manafort’s have been in regular contact and that they are part of a joint defense agreement that allows confidential information sharing.

“All during the investigation we have an open communication with them,” he said. “Defense lawyers talk to each other all the time where as long as our clients authorize it therefore we have a better idea of what’s going to happen. That’s very common.”


This diversionary Trump tweet does suggest that some firewalling is going on relative to FARA.

There may be an emerging back-story to the Trump tweet that involves some bot-activity, but that has been absorbed by other disinformation matters like Salisbury Cathedral and Russian tourists.

Trump suggested that it was “illegal” for Kerry to meet with Iran and tell them “to wait out the Trump Administration!”

Trump then misunderstood or misrepresented the law by stating that Kerry should have been registered as a foreign agent for giving a foreign nation advice as a citizen.


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1 Comment on "Who’s getting the better deal – Manafort or Trump?"

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Lone Wolf
Lone Wolf

I just read on emtywheel that he did in fact make a deal and is cooperating and that it is pardon proof, how so? The jerkoff can pardon anyone for anything federal, right? The charges were all or most all federal, right? Soooooo???