Special Counsel Robert Mueller raided Paul Manafort’s house in July, a sign that he was willing to take any aggressive measures necessary to convince Manafort to flip on Donald Trump in exchange for leniency. Mueller further warned Manafort that he was going to be indicted if he didn’t cooperate – yet that still hasn’t happened. Mueller’s only reason for waiting is a strategic one, giving Manafort additional rope. Now he’s run out of that rope.
After Manafort learned that he was going to be indicted if he failed to cooperate, he responded by taking a paying gig with yet another foreign government. The whole thing came off as one last attempted cash grab by Manafort before the gig was up; perhaps he was hoping to keep the money as part of his deal with the Feds, or perhaps he just couldn’t help himself. Whatever the reason, Mueller decided to sit back and let it play out, even while letting word slip out that Manafort had been wiretapped before and during the campaign – just to make sure he knew he was going down in the end.
Manafort took a gig working for the Kurdistan independence movement, which is more than a bit sketchy, both because the United States has taken a position against the movement, and because those are the kinds of gigs that got him into such legal trouble to begin with. The vote on the independence referendum took place on Monday. No one among the media or the public seems to know whether Manafort ended up traveling to Kurdistan for the vote, as he had reportedly been contemplating. But it’s a given that Mueller wouldn’t have let Manafort leave the country if he didn’t want it to happen.
We still don’t know why Robert Mueller strategically decided to wait until Paul Manafort’s Kurdistan gig was over before making a move on him. But we’ve periodically been reminded that Mueller is quietly three steps ahead of all of us. Now that the gig is over, the jig is up – and we’ll soon see Mueller’s next move against Manafort play out.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report