Paul Manafort – the gift that keeps on giving. If you’re opposed to popular vote loser Donald Trump, that is.
Manafort has always been seen as the most likely candidate to flip on Trump with major damning information against the President. And now, his legal problems seem to be growing even deeper, as Special Counsel Robert Mueller may have him pegged for Witness Tampering.
The Special Counsel’s Office has accused Paul Manafort of attempting to get witnesses to lie for him in court, and they’ve asked the judge to send him to jail as he awaits his trial, according to a filing in DC District Court Monday night.
One of the witnesses told investigators recently that Manafort wanted them to commit perjury about a lobbying effort they worked on for him in the US, the filing said.
Manafort is currently out on house arrest and a $10 million unsecured bail. He awaits a trial in Virginia that is scheduled for late July and a trial in DC scheduled to begin in September. He has pleaded not guilty to charges related to his failure to disclose his US lobbying work for a foreign government and to bank fraud and other financial crimes.
Tampering with a witness is a crime in itself — and it’s one Manafort has not yet been charged with.
The new allegation places even more pressure on the former Trump campaign chairman, who has stared down prosecutors as they heaped charges on him and say they continue to investigate the possibility that he coordinated with Russians during the 2016 presidential election.
This added pressure on Manafort is potentially very bad for Trump, in that it could mean he’s even more likely to flip on him, as Seth Abramson explains in this Twitter thread:
2/ What this is likely to do is hasten Trump making his first—and perhaps last—Big Unforced Error: pardoning Manafort on the theory that he can’t risk Manafort sitting in jail pre-trial and thereby getting cold feet about “staying strong” for Trump (i.e., keeping his mouth shut).
3/ Don’t forget that, per Howard Fineman of NBC, Donald Trump has told friends that Manafort can seriously hurt him if he flips. So the Manafort Pardon Watch will begin the moment Manafort’s bail is revoked, if not well before then—i.e., *right now*. This is a *huge* development.
4/ America’s Big Question tonight should be this: when did Donald Trump last speak to Paul Manafort, either directly or through an intermediary? There were rumors former Trump lawyer John Dowd floated a pardon—and we know Trump stayed in touch with Manafort months after firing him.
5/ Note that Trump suddenly began tweeting about Manafort—trying to distance himself from him, after not discussing him much for months—over the past 48-72 hours. What did he hear about this sudden Mueller filing *beforehand*—and how, and from whom? All questions needing answers.
6/ Now for the *law*: when a defendant is accused of violating his pretrial release conditions, the court holds a hearing on the alleged violation and can either remand the defendant to government custody (incarcerate him pending trial), modify his bail conditions, or do nothing.
7/ If the judge finds *probable cause* the defendant committed a new crime while on bail OR *clear and convincing evidence* the defendant violated a condition of his release, bail can be revoked. In Manafort’s case revocation almost *certainly* would mean immediate incarceration.
8/ The court will hold a hearing ASAP, and either at that hearing or soon thereafter we should expect one or more Witness Tampering charges against Manafort, for which a separate bail will then have to be set. That bail would likely be *very* high due to the nature of the charge.
9/ Witness Tampering charges tend to accrue high bails—putting aside Manafort’s separate bail revocation issue on his *existing* charges—because *definitionally* they imply a defendant is predisposed to commit *new* crimes if left free while his federal criminal case is pending.
10/ Add all this to the fact that Manafort is currently facing two separate sets of charges, and I’ll tell you now that the chances Paul Manafort is about to be incarcerated for *months* pretrial are *very* high. So too, then, are the chances Manafort starts considering flipping.
PS/ Many defendants simply lose it the moment they’re incarcerated, particularly those who’ve lived “soft”—i.e. luxury-filled—lives like Manafort. You can bet Trump is now on RED ALERT about the need to pardon Manafort or somehow get a message to him that he eventually will. /end