Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s arrest of Paul Manafort this week has set off a chain of events in which other Donald Trump campaign advisers have scrambled to save themselves and incriminate each other in the process. This appears to have been Mueller’s plan all along. Manafort never was interested in cutting a deal, instead preferring to take his chances in court. But now two key developments may put Mueller in position to quickly flip Manafort after all.
The first is that the other Trump campaign adviser arrested this week, Rick Gates, failed to disclose that he had a second passport, according to a Bloomberg report (link). If Gates was thinking he could beat the charges he’s been arrested for, his subsequent legal violation could set up an easier crime for to Mueller to prove. If Gates flips on Manafort, it could prompt Manafort to quickly conclude that he has no chance at trial, and cut a deal. There is also another, more intriguing, development.
Rick Gates works for Donald Trump’s close personal friend, financial magnate Tom Barrack. Or at least he did until he was arrested, at which point Barrack promptly fired Gates (link). Barrack is a respected public figure. There is no known evidence connecting him to the Trump-Russia scandal. His swift firing of Gates suggests that he wants nothing to do with this mess. But now Barrack has another problem.
Tom Barrack held a mortgage on a property owned by Paul Manafort, which the feds are now trying to seize, according to a report from The Guardian (link). The seizure means there was something allegedly illegal about Manafort’s purchase of the property to begin with. Again, there is no evidence that Barrack’s mortgage on the property was illegal. But Barrack seems eager to make clear that this all has nothing to do with him. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see him offer evidence against Manafort. If Barrack and Gates both turn against Manafort, he’ll have almost no chance at trial – and may cut a deal against Trump instead.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report