Manafort guilty verdicts raise chances of pardon by Trump

Comments by Jim Campbell

August 21, 2018

What do money laundering, tax evasion and fraud have to do with the so-called investigation by Robert Mueller into the alleged Trump collusion investigation?

Whatever President Trump decides to do he would be better of doing it following the 2020 elections.

 

 

(Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

 

He certainly doesn’t need the additional media hysteria and voters have not been in favor of presidents  pardoning their friends. (Source)

When the sword of Damocles stops and falls may it have a direct shot to Mueller’s head. 

Such a pardon would be a mistake.

These were not the crimes that Mueller was supposed to pursue but that does not change the fact that Manafort remains a criminal.

A pardon would reward Manafort for such a calculated strategy.

He could walk away from an array of financial crimes simply by using his connection to President Trump.

Conventional wisdom holds that Manafort’s prosecution was a clever play for leverage over a key potential witness.

In the end, however, Mueller’s play on Manafort could prove to be a serious miscalculation

 

 

Unless we are all guilty of wishful thinking and Mueller is holding several hands of great cards, which is unlikely because in D.C. it would have been leaked to the media by now, he likely has nothing.

 

The prosecutors from the office of the special counsel left the courthouse in Alexandria, Va., on Tuesday with their first major conviction, given the eight guilty verdicts against Paul Manafort for bank and tax fraud out of the 18 counts he faced.

 

C ya Mueller, wouldn’t want to be ya !

For many observers, however, a reasonable question can be raised as to what all of this means.

This obviously is not the set of crimes that special counsel Robert Mueller was appointed to pursue.

As noted by the openly skeptical trial judge in this case, Mueller clearly was pursuing President Trump and not these particular crimes.

The question now is whether these convictions will further concentrate Manafort on flipping against Trump.

If not, Mueller could be left looking like the guy who showed up at a bass fishing competition with a trophy deer head: It may be an impressive eight-count buck of a defendant, but still is not the game he was supposed to catch.

 

 

Just as Manafort has some evaluations to make, so does Mueller. He has spent millions of dollars in pursuit of crimes outside the original mandate of misconduct related to the 2016 presidential election and its aftermath.

The question is not why Manafort was prosecuted.

He deserved to be prosecuted, and he now is rightfully labeled a felon.

The question is who should have prosecuted him and why.

The prosecutors from the office of the special counsel left the courthouse in Alexandria, Va., on Tuesday with their first major conviction, given the eight guilty verdicts against Paul Manafort for bank and tax fraud out of the 18 counts he faced.

For many observers, however, a reasonable question can be raised as to what all of this means.

This obviously is not the set of crimes that special counsel Robert Mueller was appointed to pursue. As noted by the openly skeptical trial judge in this case, Mueller clearly was pursuing President Trump and not these particular crimes.

 

Please see the entire article below.

 

The question now is whether these convictions will further concentrate Manafort on flipping against Trump. If not, Mueller could be left looking like the guy who showed up at a bass fishing competition with a trophy deer head: It may be an impressive eight-count buck of a defendant, but still is not the game he was supposed to catch.

Just as Manafort has some evaluations to make, so does Mueller. He has spent millions of dollars in pursuit of crimes outside the original mandate of misconduct related to the 2016 presidential election and its aftermath. The question is not why Manafort was prosecuted. He deserved to be prosecuted, and he now is rightfully labeled a felon. The question is who should have prosecuted him and why.

There is an incoherent element to the case brought by the special counsel. Mueller transferred the investigation of former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen to the Southern District of New York despite those alleged crimes being related in part to the 2016 election — and, in a surprise deal with prosecutors, Cohen pleaded guilty earlier in the day to eight counts of bank fraud, tax fraud and campaign finance violations. Yet, Mueller retained an array of financial crimes by Manafort that are far removed from the election. The only reason was to obtain leverage.

Mueller now has that leverage but he cannot offer what Manafort most wants: a walkaway. The benefit of the convictions is that Manafort is looking at a practical life sentence if sent to jail for a decade or more. However, Mueller already is under fire by a cooperating witness, George Papadopoulos, and his wife for what they view as unfair dealing, including a recent signal from the special counsel to the court that a six-month sentence would be appropriate. Notably, attorney Alex van der Zwaan, 33, pleaded guilty in February to making false statements without cooperating with Mueller and received a 60-day sentence. The “deal” for Papadopoulos seems less than a bargain when compared to uncooperating witnesses, even accepting the differences in the context of their false statements.

It is highly unlikely that cooperation from Manafort would spare him from prison time in light of the sentences meted out to other defendants. Trump, however, could give Manafort precisely that benefit —with a pardon. Indeed, unlike Cohen, who could easily face state charges, the legal jeopardy for Manafort is more solidly based in federal claims that can be fully addressed in a pardon. Manafort thus far has been “all in” on that strategy. He has remained silent and loyal to Trump.

In contrast, Trump has been hit by former close aides like Omarosa Manigault Newman and Cohen, who have actively sought to use their inside information against him. In a strange way, Manigault Newman and Cohen have improved the chances of a pardon for Manafort. Not only would such a pardon remove the leverage by Mueller from these convictions, it also would punish people like Cohen and former national security adviser Michael Flynn in seeking protection under Mueller.

While Manafort has openly preserved his position for a pardon, Trump has laid the foundation for it. As the likelihood of a conviction grew in Alexandria, Trump stepped up his public comments denouncing the prosecution and affirming the good character of Manafort, declaring, “I think it’s a sad day for our country.” He added, “He happens to be a very good person. I think it’s very sad what they have done to Paul Manafort.”

The “happy day” sought by Manafort is unlikely to be found in the Alexandria courtroom or the office of the special counsel. He knows it only can come from the man who could brush aside all of these charges with a flick of a pen.

As for Trump, he could use a pardon to highlight the disconnect between Mueller’s mandate and his actual prosecutions. He could pardon Manafort for all crimes unrelated to the campaign or its aftermath — allowing Mueller to prosecute Manafort and anyone else for crimes tied to Russian interference with the 2016 election. He could then claim that he is not obstructing justice but doing what he has long demanded from Attorney General Jeff Sessions: to keep Mueller focused on the purpose of the investigation and to finish that work without continued delay or distractions.

:

By not transferring the financial crimes to the local U.S. Attorney’s office, he gave Manafort a better chance for a pardon by making himself part of the calculation; if he had transferred the case, he still would have had the leverage from any conviction but would not have given Trump the rationale for issuing a pardon as a way of confirming what Trump portrays as a runaway investigation.

In such a scenario, Paul Manafort ultimately would emerge as the only true winner — not because of his innocence but because of his associations. If that windfall scenario plays out for Manafort, the man he may want to thank is not Donald Trump but Robert Mueller.

Jonathan Turley is the Shapiro Professor of Public Interest Law at George Washington University. You can follow him on Twitter @JonathanTurley.

 

THE END

About JCscuba

I am firmly devoted to bringing you the truth and the stories that the mainstream media ignores. This site covers politics with a fiscally conservative, deplores Sharia driven Islam, and uses lots of humor to spiceup your day. Together we can restore our constitutional republic to what the founding fathers envisioned and fight back against the progressive movement. Obama nearly destroyed our country economically, militarily coupled with his racism he set us further on the march to becoming a Socialist State. Now it's up to President Trump to restore America to prominence. Republicans who refuse to go along with most of his agenda RINOs must be forced to walk the plank, they are RINOs and little else. Please subscribe at the top right and pass this along to your friends, Thank's I'm J.C. and I run the circus
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