Believe it or not, court proceedings in the Paul Manafort case have been moving forward at a swift pace by traditional glacially slow federal court standards. That’s both because Special Counsel Robert Mueller has been pushing for things to move swiftly, and because one of Manafort’s two federal trials is taking place in a district with a reputation for moving quickly. Now suddenly, with no reason given, there’s a one-week delay in the Manafort proceedings.
This sudden delay, coming out of nowhere, was reported by Rachel Maddow on Monday night on MSNBC. As she pointed out, there are a few different possible reasons that such a delay would be granted without any formal reason stated. But the most logical, and arguably the most likely, would be that Manafort is negotiating a plea deal. We’ll see if that ends up being the case. But a few recent developments would explain why Manafort would choose now to finally cut a deal.
The key tenets of Paul Manafort’s defense strategy, getting Robert Mueller thrown off the case and getting the evidence thrown out, have all been recently rejected by the judge. In addition, Manafort’s not only got him thrown in jail, they just got him moved to a different jail with worse conditions. Manafort no longer has a defense against the mountain of evidence that’ll be introduced at trial. If he doesn’t cut a deal, it’s very likely he’ll never spend another day of his life outside of a jail cell. But why right now?
If you’re looking for what might have pushed Paul Manafort over the edge, you might take a look at Friday’s indictment of twelve Russian government spies. It made clear that Mueller knows everything about what Team Trump and the Kremlin were plotting, and it dramatically increased the odds that Trump will end up going down for this. If Manafort was holding out delusional hope that Trump might pardon him, perhaps he finally realized that in the end, Trump won’t even be in position to issue pardons. We’ll see what this delay truly ends up being about – but a Manafort plea deal against Trump would be devastating.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report