When it comes to his own people taking him down, Donald Trump is facing trouble on a number of fronts. Michael Flynn, George Papadopoulos, and Rick Gates have already cut plea deals and testified against him. Roger Stone is about to be arrested. Michael Cohen is on deck. Jared Kushner is being targeted for a plea deal by the Feds. So why is Trump suddenly going berserk about Paul Manafort, the one guy who has made a point of not selling him out?
For reference, here’s what Trump tweeted about Manafort today: “As only one of two people left who could become President, why wouldn’t the FBI or Department of “Justice” have told me that they were secretly investigating Paul Manafort (on charges that were 10 years old and had been previously dropped) during my campaign? Should have told me! Paul Manafort came into the campaign very late and was with us for a short period of time (he represented Ronald Reagan, Bob Dole & many others over the years), but we should have been told that Comey and the boys were doing a number on him, and he wouldn’t have been hired!”
To be clear, Trump is lying about a number of things here. Paul Manafort was his campaign chairman and, at one point, also his campaign manager. Manafort was being investigated for crimes that took place during the election, and not merely ten years ago. And the Feds did try to warn Trump about Russian influence during the election. But the story here isn’t that Trump is lying; that’s to be expected. The big story is that he’s bringing up Manafort at all, who has largely fallen out of the headlines.
Two things recently transpired which failed to get the headlines they should have. The first was that, two weeks ago, Paul Manafort’s former son-in-law cut a plea deal against him. The second was that this past week, Manafort’s friends set up a legal defense fund for him, thus confirming that he’s out of money. When the people closest to you start flipping on you, and you can no longer afford your high priced lawyers, it’s usually a sign that you’re done.
We’ve been waiting to see if this was all going to add up to Paul Manafort concluding he’s screwed, and reluctantly cutting a plea deal against Donald Trump. Now suddenly Trump is pushing Manafort back into the headlines, just to distance himself from the guy. This makes no sense at all, unless Trump thinks Manafort is about to flip on him. Has Manafort tipped Trump off as a courtesy, or is Trump merely looking at the same pieces of the puzzle that we are? In any case, this means that something is about to break with Manafort.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report