Yesterday evening it was revealed that the proceedings in the Paul Manafort trial suddenly have come to a curious one-week halt without explanation, which would be most easily explained by Manafort negotiating a plea deal against Donald Trump. Just as this news was breaking, Trump appeared on the Sean Hannity show on Fox News, and went nuts about Manafort.
Trump’s interview appears to have taken place before the news surfaced about the Manafort trial delay. However, if Manafort is negotiating a plea deal, it stands to reason that Trump could have learned about it in more direct fashion, and known about it at the time of the interview. In any case, here’s what Trump had to say: “Paul Manafort, who clearly is a nice man, you look at what is going on with him. It’s like Al Capone, on a case that I guess is very old. It’s just a sad thing.” Al Capone?
Donald Trump just compared Paul Manafort to one of the most infamously ruthless mobsters of all time. It may be a fair comparison when you consider the kinds of cartoonish things that Manafort has been charged with. But you don’t compare one of your own associates to Al Capone unless you’re trying to completely write them off. It’s nuts for Trump to have even said something like this about one of his own alleged co-conspirators.
So we’re left with a few questions here. First, is Paul Manafort really negotiating a plea deal? Based on the one-week delay, it sounds like we’ll find out soon enough. Second, if Manafort is negotiating a deal, did Trump know about it when he compared him to Al Capone? Third, if Trump wasn’t aware of any plea deal negotiations, why did he throw Manafort under the bus in such ugly fashion? What more is going on here that we don’t yet know about?
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report