We now know what brought on the sudden burst of Trump being dead sure he can pardon everyone in sight, including himself, for federal crimes related to the Mueller probe (or for anything else, apparently) as Special Counsel Robert Mueller is now recommending former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort go to jail for attempted witness tampering
ahead of Manafort's trial for tax fraud and money laundering.
Federal prosecutors on Monday accused President Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, of attempting to tamper with witnesses in his federal tax and money laundering case.
In court documents, prosecutors working for the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, said that violated the terms of Mr. Manafort’s release while he awaits trial. They asked a federal judge to revise those terms or send him to jail until trial.
Prosecutors said that Mr. Manafort tried to contact witnesses by phone, through an intermediary and through an encrypted messaging program. One witness told the F.B.I. that Mr. Manafort was trying to “suborn perjury,” prosecutors said. Two witnesses provided the texts to the F.B.I., which also searched Mr. Manafort’s cloud-based Apple account, according to court records.
A lawyer for Mr. Manafort did not respond to a message seeking comment. Neither the witnesses nor the intermediaries were named.
Mr. Manafort served as Mr. Trump’s campaign chairman only briefly, but the relationship continues to haunt the Trump administration. Mr. Manafort is accused of violating federal lobbying, tax and money laundering laws as part of a complicated scheme in which he lobbied for a pro-Russia party in Ukraine and hid proceeds in foreign bank accounts.
The witnesses at issue in Monday’s court filing relate to allegations that Mr. Manafort secretly retained a group of former European officials to act as lobbyists on issues related to Ukraine. Mr. Manafort paid them 2 million euros in 2012 and 2013, according to court documents.
Manafort is pretty stupid. Mueller naturally gave Manafort enough rope to hang himself with, and Manafort tied the noose for himself as his own associates gladly ratted him out to Mueller and handed over the text messages.
Prosecutors say that was part of a secret lobbying campaign in the United States. Mr. Manafort argues the lobbying was focused on the European Union — a key point in his defense.
In court documents, prosecutors accused Mr. Manafort of trying to reach members of a public relations firm who could get word to the Europeans and help shape their story. “They should say their lobbying and public relations work was exclusively in Europe,” one of the public relations officials told the F.B.I. according to court documents.
Prosecutors provided the judge a summary of contacts that they said were made from February to April, while Mr. Manafort was under house arrest on a $10 million bond.
“We should talk,” Mr. Manafort wrote in a WhatsApp message on Feb. 26 to one of the people at the public relations firm. “I have made clear that they worked in Europe.”
When that witness avoided him or hung up, prosecutors said, Mr. Manafort worked through an unidentified intermediary.
“Basically P wants to give him a quick summary that he says to everybody (which is true) that our friends never lobbied in the U.S., and the purpose of the program was E.U.,” the intermediary wrote in a Feb. 28 WhatsApp message, according to court documents.
Then in April, the same intermediary sent a message to another person. “My friend P is looking for ways to connect to you to pass you several messages. Can we arrange that,” the text read, according to court documents.
If Mueller somehow didn't have Manafort over a 55-gallon drum before, well, Manafort may not have a friend in the world now other than the Special Counsel and he knows it
It’s long been believed that Mueller is approaching the Russia probe like the prosecution of a crime family, pressuring underlings to flip on the boss. Multiple former Trump associates have folded, taking plea deals and agreeing to cooperate with federal prosecutors. But even as prosecutors hit Manafort with more charges, flipped his longtime business associate Rick Gates, and struck a deal with his former son-in-law, he’s held strong.
There are all kind of theories about why Manafort hasn’t taken a deal. Perhaps, as his lawyer claims, he’s innocent and is confident that he’ll be acquitted. He might actually think he can get the case dismissed on the grounds that it’s outside the scope of Mueller’s probe. Or perhaps in his many shady business dealings he got mixed up with figures who are scarier than Trump.
There’s one more compelling possibility: Manafort believes that if he’s loyal to the president, he’ll return the favor. Trump’s former lawyer, John Dowd, reportedly broached the idea of a pardon with Manafort’s lawyer before he was indicted in October.
If that’s what’s kept Manafort from flipping all this time, recent events may have him questioning that decision. Manafort has yet to be charged with witness tampering, but federal prosecutors want a judge to revise the terms of his release; that means there’s a good chance he’ll wind up in jail before his trial. While there’s speculation that Trump’s cavalier pardoning in recent weeks was meant to send a message to associates caught up in the Russia probe, he can’t pardon them just yet, as it would create a major legal and political storm.
Plus, Trump’s been sending other signals to Manafort that don’t require much reading between the lines. The White House has been downplaying Manafort’s relationship with Trump since before he was indicted, and over the weekend the president randomly announced that he barely knew the man who ran his campaign in the summer of 2016 – and if he was up to no good, the FBI should have warned him.
"Randomly" my Aunt Angela. Trump knew this was coming and made it clear that Manafort is dead to him for his failures. He knows how much Manafort can damage him and that pardoning him won't help because one the cases Manafort is facing is a state trial in Virginia as well as a federal trial in DC, and Trump can't touch the state charges at all, hence the sudden shift to Trump pardoning himself.
Manafort is in a boatload of trouble and his only way out now may be to finally flip on Trump. If he does, and the added pressure of ending up in jail before his trial even begins
certainly makes that a possibility, then Trump is done.
And everyone knows it.