Over the weekend, even as he was hastily meeting with most of his family at Camp David to discuss something that had to have been pretty serious, Donald Trump suddenly began ranting about Paul Manafort. Even though Manafort has largely been out of the headlines of late, Trump decided to drag his former campaign manager and campaign chairman back into the spotlight, just so he could distance himself from Manafort, while inexplicably blaming Manafort’s crime spree on the FBI.
The big question, of course, is why Trump suddenly decided that he needed to bring up Paul Manafort in this manner. Trump has typically done this sort of thing to his own people, just as he’s figured out that they’re about to get arrested, or that they’re about to cut plea deals against him. Manafort was already arrested a long time ago. This would suggest that Trump believes Manafort is about to imminently flip on him.
This doesn’t mean that it’s actually about to happen. Trump could have gotten an inside tip from the numerous mutual friends and associates that he and Manafort have long shared. Or Trump could simply be hallucinating. But there is some circumstantial evidence suggesting that Manafort may indeed be about to flip. A couple weeks ago, his former son-in-law flipped on him. Then his pals set up a legal defense fund for him. When your family is testifying against you, and you’re too broke to pay your lawyers anyway, there’s no more ripe motivation for cutting a deal.
To be clear, nothing specific has surfaced from Team Manafort or Team Mueller about a plea deal. This stands in contrast to the significant insider noise we heard just before Michael Flynn and Rick Gates cut their plea deals. But Donald Trump seems to think Paul Manafort’s plea deal is imminent enough that he wanted to hurry up and distance himself over the weekend before it could be announced. Does that mean it’s coming today? Tomorrow? Never? Stay tuned.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report