Weeks after Paul Manafort announced through a spokesperson that he was retroactively registering as a foreign agent with regard to the tens of millions of dollars in payments he took from a pro-Kremlin oligarch, he still hasn’t registered. And now his partner in crime has gotten tired of waiting for him, opting to register as a foreign agent without him – a sign that Manafort is backed into even more of a corner than previously known.
Paul Manafort’s lobbying firm was directing another lobbying firm to carry out the foreign agent work. As of today that second firm has registered as a foreign agent, according to this Chicago Tribune report (link). In so doing, the partner firm is admitting its own guilt – and by extension, admitting Manafort’s guilt. This means Manafort’s bargaining chip of ratting himself out is now weakened or gone altogether, in terms of negotiating a deal with the Feds. So why’s he hesitating?
The Tribune says Manafort is “still considering his options after receiving guidance from the federal authorities.” The most obvious interpretation of those words is that Manafort realized he’s in so deep legally, he couldn’t bail himself out much by simply reporting himself and his partners for having worked as unregistered foreign agents. So now he’s back talking to the Feds, ostensibly trying to figure out what he can do to avoid a prison sentence. And of course he only has one Trump-shaped bargaining chip left.
Considering how far back Donald Trump and Paul Manafort go (Manafort lives in Trump Tower), it’s a reasonable assumption that Manafort may have been looking for a way to get himself off the hook without having to give up whatever he knows about Trump’s illegal activities – particularly with regard to Russia. But if that were possible, Manafort would have simply registered as planned, and moved on with a plea. The fact that he’s back talking to the Feds, even after his partner firm has registered without him, tells me he’s now talking about giving up Trump. Contribute to Palmer Report
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report