Earlier today, the judge in the upcoming Paul Manafort trial agreed to delay its start date by one week. In the wake of all the enlightening and potentially scandalous news that’s surfaced about Manafort over the past twenty-four hours, it’s led a number of people to begin asking precisely why the trial has been delayed. We can’t tell you for certain, but we can address a couple of specific questions that are being asked.
Yesterday it was reported that Paul Manafort had been trying to cut a plea deal during the latter stages of his first trial. So is his second trial being delayed because Manafort and Special Counsel Robert Mueller want to work out a plea deal? In a word, no. If that were the case, both sides would have been jointly requesting the delay, and no reason would have been publicly stated. Instead, all the reporting coming out of the courtroom is that Manafort’s team solely asked for this delay, and cited a need to catch up on the evidence.
There is also the bizarre story today of Paul Manafort’s former banker’s home having been robbed last night. This story is suspicious and weird to say the least. But the banker in question was a part of the last Manafort trial, not this one. So there is no reason to believe that Manafort’s lawyers asked for this trial to be delayed for reasons that have anything to do with the robbery. In addition, they asked for the delay before the robbery news broke.
The bottom line is that this appears to simply be a garden variety stall tactic on the part of Paul Manafort’s legal team, which is commonplace in a trial where the prosecution has submitted a mountain of evidence. In fact Manafort’s team tried to get his first trial delayed by a week. Could Manafort and his team be unilaterally delaying the trial in the hope of initiating new plea deal negotiations with Mueller? Theoretically, sure – but there’s no specific indication of that.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report