Two MSNBC legal analysts explained why former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort may have agreed to cooperate with Special Counsel Robert Mueller, and why President Donald Trump is toast if he does.
On Friday, Manafort and federal prosecutors struck a plea deal that includes cooperating with the Russia probe, which Trump has repeatedly attacked since the start of his presidency.
Manafort had already been convicted of bank and tax fraud in a previous trial that ended last month.
He faced charges ranging from money laundering to acting as a unregistered foreign agent, which would have carried an even steeper sentence if found guilty.
But the charges were reduced or dropped on Friday, and legal analysts Ken Dilanian and Dan Goldman explained on MSNBC that Manafort had to have agreed to cooperate with Mueller to score his plea deal.
“He is admitting essentially to the kitchen sink, all the conduct the government charged him with in both Washington, D.C. and Virginia, all of the conduct involving failure to register as a lobbyist, money laundering,” Dilanian said. “But he’s only pleading guilty to two counts. That could indicate he cut a deal to cooperate with Mueller.”
MSNBC host then had Goldman chime in, and he explained that the significance of Manafort’s plea deal is that he got his sentence reduced despite pleading guilty to all of the charges against him, including charges that a jury failed to convict him on.
“Notably, what sticks out to me, it includes some conduct that he was only charged with in the Virginia case, and on which the jury hung,” Goldman said. “That and the benefit he is getting at least from the charging document is that the sentence is going to be capped statutorily capped at ten years.”
“If he wants to actually reduce his sentence, the only way to do that through the criminal justice system is through cooperation,” Goldman continued. “As I read this, because it includes all of his conduct, including some conduct in Virginia, this reads to me like it could be cooperation.”
And that’s seriously bad news for Trump, who has previously bragged about Manafort keeping his mouth shut.
“What everybody cares about here, right, is whether Paul Manafort is going to cooperate with Mueller,” Dilanian added. “Paul Manafort, of all the people who work for Donald Trump, had the most connections with Russians and Ukrainian oligarchs. He was experienced in that world. So if there was a conspiracy between the Trump campaign and the Russians, most analysts believe Paul Manafort would have some knowledge about it. The question remaining today is if he does, will he share that with the special counsel?”
Here’s the video via YouTube.
If Manafort agreed to talk to Mueller about Russian involvement in the 2016 Election, Trump could be in even more legal trouble. Of course, we all know that Trump will likely throw Manafort under the bus and launch more attacks on Mueller and the Russia probe in response to this news. After all, Trump attacked Michael Cohen for implicating him as an un-indicted co-conspirator. There’s no reason to believe Trump won’t do the same to his former campaign manager, who also happened to be at Trump Tower on June 6, 2016 for a meeting with Russian agents to get “dirt” on Hillary Clinton. He could shed a lot more light on that meeting, which could mean trouble for not only Trump, but Trump’s son Donald Trump Jr. and his son-in-law Jared Kushner, both of whom were also there representing the campaign.
It’s just a matter of waiting to see what Manafort tells Mueller, and we may not know that for weeks or months. But one thing is certain, the Russia probe just got even more interesting.
Featured Image: YouTube screenshot