psbsve / Flickr FBI Probe Of Paul Manafort Focuses...
psbsve / Flickr

Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s “submission in support of [the government’s] breach determination” condemning former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort is brutal in its banality. In essence, Manafort lied about at least five major things, Team Mueller offered Manafort and his counsel a chance to come clean about the lies, and Manafort doubled down. Now, Mueller’s done with Manafort.

The Manafort document’s unexpectedly simple amidst a week of momentous filings. At just 10 pages, and riddled with redactions in its public form, the filing itself isn’t much more complicated than my initial Twitter take, included below, makes it. But there are a few points of analysis to add.

Mueller made the consequences of Manafort lying to Mueller after signing the agreement almost awkwardly clear from the outset.

Though it’s vague on the details, the filing notes what it’s leaving out in broad strokes: Mueller’s just outlining what they’re ready to prove in court. The team’s filing a separate document asking permission to give additional specifics about Manafort’s lies vis-á-vis pending investigations and uncharged individuals under seal. If even this relatively generic account of his lies had to be redacted thoroughly, imagine what the specifics include.

This is where that Latin term of art Sen. Richard Blumenthal leveled at now-Justice Brett Kavanaugh during his disastrous final day before the Senate Judiciary Committee comes into play: Falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus. For legal purposes, Manafort’s falsity in one thing destroys his credibility in all things. Which means that, though he was warned, Manafort persisted in giving up the one thing that offered him leverage, his value as a witness and informant.

By opting into the plea agreement then violating it, Manafort ensured he’ll receive a harsher sentence than he would have had he simply pleaded guilty. Team Mueller has specified stated that they’ll be citing Manafort’s multiple breaches for sentencing purposes under 18 U.S.C. § 3553, a provision aptly named “imposition of a sentence.”

So, why did Manafort lie, then lie about lying, knowing the consequences? He could just think he was smart enough to get away with it, despite the abundant indications to the contrary and epic failure of his previous efforts to dodge accountability. He could still be angling for a pardon, despite the plea language and the risk of state prosecution.  Or maybe he’s that scared of Russia. All things considered, that’d be the most sensible of these motivations.

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


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