Remember all the fears that Trump could simply pardon Paul Manafort for any federal crimes? Well, rest easy. In what appears to be a stroke of legal genius, Robert Mueller apparently structured the plea deal in a way to take that prospect into account. According to Fox News’ Judge Andrew Napolitano, any attempt to pardon Manafort would not only be political suicide, but would be a waste of effort legally.
Ed Krassenstein mentioned this on Twitter, and I thought it was snark.
BOOM! Judge Napolitano reports that in Paul Manafort's guilty plea, Robert Mueller also required Manafort to plead guilty to uncharged state crimes in New Jersey, Virginia and California to "make it pardon proof".
Robert Mueller is a genius, and Manafort appears to be screwed!
— Ed Krassenstein (@EdKrassen) November 27, 2018
But per Raw Story, it isn’t. Napolitano told Shep Smith about a legal quarter-stick of dynamite contained in the lengthy plea agreement Manafort signed—175 pages worth. Manafort not only pleaded guilty to federal charges of bank fraud, money laundering and bribery, but also the aforementioned state charges.
The beauty of it, per Napolitano?
“Why did they do that? To make it pardon proof so if President Trump, which he can do, does pardon him for the federal crimes the state prosecutors in those states already have his guilty plea.” (emphasis mine)
Well, this is an interesting development. We already knew that if Trump were stupid enough to pardon Manafort, New York state prosecutors would file state-level charges before the ink even had time to dry. But guilty pleas to state charges in New Jersey, Virginia and California? Obviously some other prosecutors are taking a long look at the Trump crime family.
Now Mueller’s team has put Manafort on notice that Manafort’s lies have cost him a chance at a reduced sentence—thus exposing him to enough prison time to make him a decrepit old man if he ever gets out of federal prison alive. And apparently the plea agreement is structured so that there is literally nothing Trump can do to save him.
Simply put, Manafort is screwed eighty ways to Sunday.