Now that the shock of Paul Manafort’s plea deal violation has worn off, and the whole thing feels like an inevitability in hindsight, here’s the thing. Robert Mueller says Manafort lied to him. That leaves us with one big question: how did Mueller know that Manafort lied to him? Therein lies the most important answer of all.
We’ve seen that Paul Manafort is consistently dishonest on an almost clinical level. While he was under house arrest and he knew his electronic communications were being monitored, he still conspired with a Russian spy to try to intimidate witnesses against him, knowing he’d almost certainly get caught. That incident is why Manafort is rotting in jail, instead of still being under house arrest, while awaiting sentencing. So lying to Mueller is not the first time Manafort has recklessly harmed himself during this process. It’s not surprising that Manafort tried to cheat again, or that he got caught again.
But even if you’re dealing with a known liar, you still don’t know for certain that the person is lying in any given instance, unless you independently know the truth. Manafort must have gambled that there were certain things he could lie about, for instance what went down in that Trump Tower meeting with the Russians, and Mueller wouldn’t know any better. But whatever it was, Mueller knew the truth about it anyway.
This suggests that Robert Mueller has a cooperating witness that Paul Manafort doesn’t know about, or tape recordings of conversations that were thought to be private, or something that allowed Mueller to know Manafort was lying about something that Manafort thought Mueller couldn’t possibly know about. Mueller clearly knows more than anyone involved thinks he does.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report