Paul Manafort has pleaded guilty to various felony counts in order to avoid another trial. That is not the surprising part in the latest developments. What is a surprise, and has to have the current White House inhabitant soiling himself, is that the nature of the plea deal is a cooperation agreement. Reports have not nailed down which specific cases Manafort is cooperating with, but his lawyer said it would be “complete cooperation,” and his deal specifies that he must cooperate fully with any and all investigations.
In the document filed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller and his team, Manafort pleaded to one count of conspiracy against the United States and one count of conspiracy to obstruct justice. The other counts, according to Prosecutor Andrew Weissman, will be dropped at sentencing “or at the agreement of successful cooperation.”
As a reminder, this “witch hunt” and “hoax” has resulted to date in the following high-level Trump officials pleading or being found guilty:
– Manafort convicted of 8 counts in trial
– Manafort pleading to two counts and cooperating with the Special Counsel
– Michael Flynn pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate
– Rick Gates pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate
– George Papadopoulos pleaded guilty, serving prison time
– Alex van der Zwaan pleaded guilty, served prison time
– Michael Cohen pleaded guilty, cooperating
In addition, sixteen Russian individuals and/or entities have been indicted. As Al Pacino states in Scent of a Woman” “I am just getting warmed up.” Mueller could be saying that to himself right now. Donald Trump will likely speak through Twitter on this. Recall he talked about Manafort’s loyalty and how Manafort would never do anything to hurt him, and Giuliani reported that the potential deal with Manafort did not worry Trump.
But cooperation is huge, and the plea deal is challenging for Donald Trump. If he pardons Manafort, then Manafort would lose his 5th Amendment protections. He would be compelled to answer questions. Also, if Manafort accepts a pardon, state charges could still be brought against him. So Trump will have to spend the weekend, with no scheduled activities, stewing over the latest person who “broke” despite Trump’s confidence it would not happen. Trump’s silence so far on Twitter is deafening – we have a man fearful of what shoe is dropping next on what appears to be an Octopus set of shoes.