Over the weekend, Special Counsel Robert Mueller curiously offered to let Paul Manafort go free from house arrest on bail. Palmer Report pointed out at the time that Mueller only had two possible motivations. One was that Manafort had begun cooperating. The other was that Mueller had reason to believe Manafort would quickly commit even more crimes, and he wanted to further nail him on it. Now we know that it was indeed the latter. But how did Mueller know?
Manafort was busted over the weekend for conspiring with a Russian-spy-connected associate to plant an editorial in the media which could have biased the jury pool in his favor for his upcoming trial. That means that after Manafort was arrested for allegedly conspiring with the Russians, his first response was to find a new way to conspire with the Russians. I’ve been asked how I “knew” that Mueller was baiting Manafort into further incriminating himself. That was just a hunch on my part. Mueller, on the other hand, knew.
Mueller is a hardass and he was never going to give Manafort any leniency without good reason. Since it’s now clear that Manafort obviously wasn’t cooperating with Mueller, we’re left to conclude that Mueller knew for certain about Manafort’s intent to conspire with Russia yet again. There are a very small number of possible explanations. One would be that Mueller is surveilling Manafort’s phone or computer, which is legal if a judge signs off on it. Keep in mind that there was a FISA surveillance warrant against Manafort before and after the election. The other possibility is more intriguing.
Robert Mueller simultaneously arrested Paul Manafort and his lesser known associate Rick Gates for a reason: he’s hoping to get Gates to flip on Manafort, which could then force Manafort to flip on Trump. Did Gates tip off Mueller that Manafort had something new cooking with the Russians? If so, it would be the first sign of Gates’ cooperation, and most likely not the last.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report