24 February 2018

Manafort and Trump

Farflung correspondents, 

It sure looks like Manafort is screwed. And the circumstances surrounding his becoming Trump campaign chair are looking more and more suspicious, given his past shady dealings with, and massive debt to, Russian oligarchs like Oleg Deripaska. So what's he thinking? Sure looks like he expects Trump to pardon him. But I'm not sure Trump will dare to do that. It would make it glaringly obvious that there's substance to the suspicions of Trump's criminal involvement. And a pardon wouldn't really work anyway. You can't pardon people to keep them from talking. Once Manafort were pardoned, he'd HAVE to talk, because he couldn't claim the 5th amendment, especially if the pardon were open ended, which it would almost have to be, or the prosecutors would just charge him with something else. There's clearly plenty there. Here's a question: can the president pardon someone from a Contempt Citation for refusal to testify? Never happened before; I'd argue that it would not fly, because it's not a crime but an abuse of process which the court has the power to enforce entirely on its own, without regard to executive power. Thoughts, legal types?

As one of the legal experts on the tube said the other day, when it comes to election law violations, conspiracy to accept anything of value, even "help," or "opposition research" or just potentially useful information, from a foreign entity or person with intent to use it to influence an election is a crime. There need not be a quo, the quid is enough. Pretty ambiguous standard, but in this case, there is actually pretty straightforward evidence against Don Jr., in the form of his e mails concerning the June meeting. And Manafort, don't forget was at that meeting. And the fact that the results of the Russian hacking started appearing right afterward, and people like Trump fixer Roger Stone publicly predicted exactly what would happen. How did he know? The fix was in, that's how. Mueller knows all of this, and more, you can be pretty sure of that.

One possible scenario: Manafort refuses to cooperate, is tried and convicted, while claiming the 5th to refuse to cooperate with investigators. THEN Trump pardons him. By then, it'll be after January 2019; all bets are off if the Democrats have regained control of the House and Senate, or even just the House, because Congressional investigations will become serious. And if convicted, whether or not pardoned, Manafort can be immunized from further prosecution and forced to testify.

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