I would so not want to be Paul Manafort right about now. With Rick Gates turning turtle for Robert Mueller, Paul Manafort is literally nearly a “dead man walking.” And it couldn’t happen to a nicer scumbag.
From this moment forward, Paul Manafort’s life is basically over, no matter what he does. Manafort is 68 years old. And legal experts are saying that if Manafort is convicted of the cornucopia of charges Mueller has against him, mandatory sentencing laws would stick him with a minimum of 15 years in prison, likely a death sentence if he goes to trial and loses. And he will lose. These cases are document heavy cases, almost no witness testimony is needed, the numbers and actions just need to be clearly explained.
But if he in turn rolls over too, he implicates not only most likely Trump, but also Russian and Ukrainian oligarchs, and Mueller has already shown that basically penning oligarchs inside Russia by threatening them with extradition to the US to face charges if they travel to western European countries is something that gets him going in the morning. What do you bet that Mueller indicts anybody Manafort names if he can get corroborating evidence? And these are people who settle grudges with radioactive waste in your cocktails.
Right now, the funny thing is that Manafort’s gravest danger is that his old protege, Rick Gates, has made him useless to Mueller. Is the possibility of indicting a bunch of Ukrainians and Russians who may never go to trial enough for Mueller to deal? I think not. And Rick Gates remained a high level Trump adviser long after Manafort left, even through the transition and inauguration. If Manafort can’t give Mueller something that Gates already hasn’t, then he’s nothing more than a nail waiting to get criminally hammered to show how tough Mueller is going to be with these people. Mueller needs that, a showcase conviction to prove that everybody can’t just get probation and a fine by cooperating. Somebody needs to go down, and hard, and Manafort is a poster child for that role.
Manafort’s sole salvation right now may well be Donald Trump Jr. That Trump tower meeting with the Russians may be Manafort’s only passport to whatever freedom he has left. Manafort’s two main jobs with the campaign were normalizing Trump for polite company, and running the convention so that there were no messy floor fights. Rick Gates was a nuts-and-bolts man, he worked the daily aspect of the campaign, and in so doing, likely came into much greater contact with Jared Kushner than Manafort did. If Kushner goes down, it is highly likely that it will be Rick Gates who buries him, and not Paul Manafort. Kushner ran the Trump digital operation, and there is nothing to indicate that Manafort was involved with that, but it is highly likely that Gates was. Don’t forget, the superceding indictments just released yesterday show that it was Gates who handled the technical aspects of falsifying the profit and loss statements going to the banks to back up the loans, apparently Manafort didn’t have the skills for that.
My only question is not whether Manafort will flip, but whether or not he’s worth flipping. Paul Manafort’s history shows that if given the opportunity, he will flip like the “river card” in a game of Texas Hold ‘Em. He has the morals of a feral alley cat. One of the reasons Michael Flynn took the hammer was to save his son the possibility of being indicted and convicted. There hasn’t been a whisper that Manafort even considered that option to save his son in law when he was under scrutiny in the investigation.
Paul Manafort took blood money from dictators who tortured and killed their own citizens, and jailed their political opponents, to make them look like Ronald Reagan in the US. He hid that money in offshore accounts, and laundered the funds through real estate transactions to buy himself more Armani suits than Imelda Marcos had pairs of shoes. And if he’d launder his own money, what do you think the chances are that he laundered some for the very oligarchs he was in hock up to his ears to? He doctored the GOP convention platform to make sure that real Ukrainians couldn’t get the arms they needed to defend themselves from Putin’s thugs. When you take away the politics, and the luxury homes, and the millions, basically what you have is a street level punk, who will roll on anybody higher above him so quick and hard that Richard Petty couldn’t keep him from spinning into a wall.
Personally, I hope Rick Gates has all of the goodies, I’d love to see Manafort rot away in an orange jumpsuit. But even if he sings for his supper, he may as well be in prison. I’m pretty sure that any plea agreement he signs will include confiscation and restitution. He’ll lose the homes, his suits, his offshore millions, and whatever shreds of self respect he still clings to, and all with no way to make any more money. It’s a funny thing about parking your money offshore, you don’t pay social security taxes on it. And the cherry on top is that he’ll spend the rest of his miserable, pathetic life looking constantly over his shoulder for a bunch of guys who smell like borscht. You broke it pal, you own it. Happy retirement.