Wednesday was such a bizarre day for Trump-related news that Paul Manafort could barely get a word in edgewise. He certainly tried, as he filed a civil suit against Special Counsel Robert Mueller and portions of the Department of Justice. It all ended up getting drowned out by Steve Bannon’s assertion that Donald Trump and his son committed “treason” of course. But let’s talk about what Manafort is really up to, because it tells us a lot about how Manafort thinks Trump is going to handle all of this.
Every legal expert who has weighed in on Paul Manafort’s lawsuit has confirmed what the rest of us already suspected: it’s complete crap and it isn’t going anywhere. Manafort’s proper course of action would have been to file a similar action in criminal court. That probably wouldn’t have worked either, but by filing suit in civil court, Manafort has guaranteed that his effort will fail. So why bother? Failure may be the entire point.
If Manafort filed this nonsense in the criminal case being brought against him, it could end up infuriating the judge who will ultimately sentence him if he’s found guilty. Instead he’s making a point of filing this silliness in a different venue, so when it gets struck down, it won’t hurt him in his criminal trial. There is only one person out there who could possibly be impressed that Manafort is filing a frivolous lawsuit aimed at smearing Mueller. That person’s name, of course, is Donald Trump.
Paul Manafort is rather transparently attempting to kiss up to Trump. His only possible reason for doing it is that he still believes Trump might somehow pardon him in the end. You never know. If and when Trump is forced from office, he could try pardoning everyone involved on his way out the door. The courts would then have to rule on the validity of pardoning his own co-conspirators, and there is no precedent for how that ruling would go. Manafort is clearly angling for a pardon – which suggests that he thinks he’s going to be found guilty.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report