John Brian Silverio / Flickr Rudy Guiliani...
John Brian Silverio / Flickr

To coin a phrase … boom. Friday is the deadline for Special Counsel Robert Mueller to explain why he feels that Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort has repeatedly lied to investigators and breached his plea deal. Considering the number and nature of the charges against Manafort, it’s entirely possible that those lies could have been about his money laundering for Russian oligarchs. Or his foreign lobbying for Russian oligarchs. Or failing to properly report the money he was being funneled by Russian oligarchs. Or overthrowing governments for Russian oligarchs.

But it’s beginning to appear that Manafort was lying about that other thing he did for Russian oligarchs: Running the Trump campaign. In particular, Mueller’s team reportedly did not believe Manafort when he told them that Trump did not know that Trump Tower meeting between his top campaign staff and Russian operatives.

Rudy Giuliani set the stage on Friday afternoon, playing the “Manafort said that Mueller said” game of political telephone. As he has on other occasions, Giuliani seemed to be trying to get out front of the coming crazy, saying that what got Manafort in trouble wasn’t lying about his crimes. It was lying about Trump’s.

Giuliani: In the questioning of Manafort, they did tell them at the time that they believed he was lying about certain things related to us that he’s not lying about.

The specific thing in question is the Trump Tower meeting. Giuliani is saying that Mueller is accusing Manafort of lying when he says that Trump did not know about the Trump Tower meeting before it broke in the media. And Giuliani is continuing to insist that Manafort is right, Mueller is wrong. However, if Robert Mueller is going to step into court on Friday to say that Paul Manafort lied about Trump’s knowledge of the critical Trump Tower meeting, it’s because Mueller has absolute, concrete knowledge that Trump did know. That could include testimony by multiple other witnesses—possibly Michael Flynn and Michael Cohen—it could also include email and phone records showing Trump’s involvement.

No matter what the evidence, if Mueller walks into court in the next few hours to accuse Manafort of lying about the Trump Tower meeting, that is immediately tantamount to an accusation of obstruction of justice by Trump. At minimum. It also immediately makes a liar out of both Donald Trump Jr. and Jared Kushner, suggesting that actual indictments for both might be getting an express pass to their doors. Stay tuned. Mueller should be in court in less than three hours.

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

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