Of all the indictments and all the guilty pleas and all the cooperating witnesses, there are few that are as important as Paul Manafort. He could be the conduit for a Donald Trump Jr indictment, a Jared Kushner indictment, and a Trump indictment. He could by himself expose the entire Trump-Russia plot. Michael Flynn was important, but he only gets us a limited group of Trump criminals. Steve Bannon is important but like Flynn, he gets us a limited group.
Manafort can take down everyone. He was there in Trump Tower with the Russians. He facilitated money from Russian oligarchs to members of the Trump Organization. He is connected to almost every person indicted or person being investigated. He is also connected to several of the names yet to be indicted, like Roger Stone. He also is connected to Russian puppet Congressman Dana Rohrabacher. Stone was reportedly the guy who got Manafort the job in the Trump campaign. Make no mistake about it. Manafort is the key. He alone can blow this whole thing wide open. Robert Mueller knows that. So does Trump.
So how will Trump play this? He apparently is negotiating his testimony in front of Mueller by seeking to limit the questioning and to pressure Mueller to close the investigation soon. Obviously, that idea is going nowhere. Trump would never testify to a grand jury. His attorneys would never allow it. So what way is left for him to avoid further indictments that might even include the inner family circle? There are none.
But don’t be surprised if Donald Trump suddenly starts talking glowingly about Paul Manafort. If he does try to pardon Manafort, all hell will break loose. It will definitely not stop Robert Mueller, as he has plenty of other witnesses, and he can nail Manafort on unpardonable state charges. But it might create a diversion that will take away from Stormy Daniels news, and maybe even some of the Trump-Russia news that is breaking every day. On the other hand, Trump’s latest move suggest he’s too tepid to pardon anyone in Trump-Russia.