Paul Manafort, who is now all but guaranteed to spend the rest of his life in solitary confinement, has yet another problem on his hands. His lawyers just screwed up in their court filings and accidentally revealed a major part of Trump-Russia election collusion, at a time when Donald Trump can least afford it.
Special Counsel Robert Mueller has accused Paul Manafort of lying to him about important Trump-Russia matters, prompting Mueller to rip up their plea deal. Manafort’s attorneys have finally filed a response in court, and for reasons not yet clear, they filed it under seal. But they made an error with the filing, inadvertently informing the public that Manafort shared Trump campaign polling with Russian spy Konstantin Kilimnik during the election and then lied about it to Mueller. Why does this matter?
Mueller clearly already knows about Manafort’s collusion with Kilimnik, which is how Mueller knew that Manafort was lying to him about it. And Manafort is never getting out of prison anyway. But this is a big deal for Donald Trump, because it demonstrates that Trump-Russia collusion absolutely existed, and it puts the focus partially back on his Russia scandal at a time when he’d rather everyone focus on how badly he’s screwing up his wall/shutdown mess.
This also raises the question of how Robert Mueller knew that Paul Manafort was lying about his interactions with a Russian spy. Manafort’s longtime sidekick Rick Gates has already flipped; did he give this up? Is there someone else who’s cooperating? In any case, it’s yet another reminder that Mueller already knows everything – and that there is nothing Donald Trump can do to stop Mueller from finishing off what’s left of his dying presidency.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report