The Manafort trial: So much about this is wrong

August 1, 2018 - August 2, 2018

“If Mueller convicts Manafort, it is likely to be celebrated as proof of the legitimacy of the special counsel investigation.  In truth, it is not.  Manafort’s charges have nothing to do with Mueller’s original mandate involving Russian collusion, obstruction or any of the allegations directed against the President.  That does not make Manafort innocent, but this was not the game Mueller was supposed to be playing.”

Couldn’t have said it better myself; that’s why I quoted Jonathan Turley from his piece in THE HILL.  It’s still necessary to read all the way down the end to get to it, but it’s there!  Coverage of the first day of the trial of Paul Manafort, one-time Trump presidential campaign chairman, has been incredibly biased and misleading, much of it omitting this important piece of information.

 

Jury selection for the Manafort trial in the Eastern District of Virginia, the Hon. T. S. Ellis III presiding, proceeded surprisingly quickly.  What some trial-watchers had predicted would take two days was accomplished in just a few hours.  Lawyers for both sides were instructed not to mention the “Trump/Russia” connection at all in front of the jury pool --- which makes sense, as these charges against Manafort have nothing to do with that.  He’s alleged to have laundered about $30 million to hide it from the IRS and also to have lied on loan applications.  The charges go back to 2005-2007.  Leading the prosecution is notorious anti-Trump pitbull Andrew Weissmann.

 


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Turley is one of the few to point out the most likely reason why Manafort hasn’t “cooperated” with Mueller and offered damaging information about the President.  “...Manafort might not have enough to satisfy Mueller,” Turley says.  “Manafort would need deliverables on Trump, and he may not have them.  Short of a quid pro quo understanding with the Russians, or confirmation of the President’s knowledge of the Trump Tower meeting with Russians that implicates Donald Trump, Jr., and others, Manafort may not have a deliverable.”

 

Turley says Manafort's odds aren’t good, because he’s being tried on 18 criminal counts when all it might take is a single count of “guilty” to keep him behind bars for a decade, and he is 69.  That’s before the second trial in Washington, DC, in which he’ll be tried on another seven counts.  Manafort may be holding out hope that if he takes all this without granting Mueller’s dearest wish –- “singing” or even “composing” something that would help with the prosecution or impeachment of the President  –- he’ll be pardoned by Trump.  There’s rationale for a pardon, as sleazy as some of Manfort’s business practices may have been, and here’s why:

 

First, some background.  On August 2, 2017 –- one week AFTER the armed pre-dawn raid on Manafort’s home in which bank and tax records were seized –- Rosenstein sent a then-classified memo to Mueller granting him authority to investigate allegations that Manafort “committed a crime or crimes by colluding with Russian officials” to interfere with the 2016 election AND crimes “arising out of payments he received from the Ukrainian government before and during the tenure of President Viktor Yanuovych.”  When Manafort challenged the scope of the investigation, saying it was “completely unmoored” from the special counsel’s intended purpose of investigating ties between Russia and the Trump campaign, Mueller responded that the original authorization signed by Rosenstein granted him the authority to investigate Manafort’s pre-campaign lobbying activities.

 

Why, pray tell?  As THE DAILY CALLER reported at the time, Mueller said the investigation would “naturally” look into any interaction that Manafort “may have had before and during the campaign to plumb motives and opportunities to coordinate and to expose possible channels for surreptitious communications.”  Ah, no limitations.  Naturally.  And Mueller prevailed.  But it sure might induce Trump to issue a pardon, with the rationale that Manafort shouldn’t have been under investigation for his Ukraine work and financial dealings before the specific authorization Rosenstein gave Mueller on August 2, 2017.

 

There’s something else.  As reported by Sara A. Carter, the government in 2014 had the opportunity to go after Manafort on this stuff, and they passed.  So why, later on, in the “get-Trump” environment of 2017, did they decide to prosecute him on those old charges after all?  More rationale for a pardon.

 

https://www.cnsnews.com/news/article/susan-jones/rosenstein-secretly-authorized-mueller-investigate-manafort-after-fbi

 

Also, with the witnesses they’re bringing in to testify against Manafort, prosecutors apparently hope to get the jury to find him guilty of being rich.  He has definitely lived a lavish lifestyle, and prosecutors may be using psychology on the jurors, knowing that those who budget and dutifully pay their taxes might not find it in their hearts to be forgiving.  They want the jury to hear about his six homes; his costly antiques; two silk rugs costing $160,000; a landscaping bill for $150,000; and a custom-tailored wardrobe that cost $1.5 million.

 



Judge Ellis on Tuesday was reportedly so put off by this that he stopped such talk, turned to the jury and said, “It’s not a crime to have a lot of money.”  Of course, the argument will be that Manafort’s expensive tastes provided motivation for him to keep the money flowing any way he could, including committing bank fraud (lying on loan applications) to obtain $25 million in loans.  He could easily spend the rest of his life in jail for this, when the average sentence for tax fraud, according to Tucker Carlson, is only 1 year and 3 months, and even the average violent felon spends 6.5 years behind bars.  And, as Judge Ellis knows, he was targeted for prosecution only because he spent a few months working to get Donald Trump across the finish line at the Republican Convention.  How dare he.

 

http://thehill.com/opinion/judiciary/399653-paul-manafort-gambles-against-all-odds-at-trial

 

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Comments 1-18 of 18

  • Lance E Brown

    08/05/2018 02:59 PM

    This just hurts my head!
    Manafort VS Mueller
    they gave Mueller “Special Investigative Authority” to investigate the supposed Trump Russian Collusion.
    Collusion is not even on the table any longer. NO ONE not Mueller, Not CNN, Not the DEMs no one is barking collusion.

    So now they are targeting ANYONE who has ANYTHING to do with Trump and trying to hang them for ANYTHING and all the while insisting that “This Is Not A Witch Hunt “! excuse me but this is the very definition of a “WITCH HUNT”!

    Manafort is being hung out for something that occurred 10 years ago and was already looked into by the authorities. And now we are watching him get grilled over his wardrobe??? getting pretty thin!

    And all over the news we are hearing that this is “a big victory for Mueller” ???? how. Mueller is supposed to be investigating Russian collusion. NOT A MANS WARDROBE!

    At this point Mueller is degrees of separation from Trump. Degrees of separation from Russia and collusion is not even on the table. We are looking at a mans jacket while Mueller barks about tax discrepancies and the news screams collusion. THIS IS BEYOND convoluted !!!

  • Joseph Orsini

    08/02/2018 07:20 PM

    Mueller is looking for foreign interference in our elections? How about looking at illegals voting here?

  • David Wilson

    08/02/2018 03:47 PM

    Mike I don't think he should be going to trial at this time at all. As you said it's based solely on the fact he may have some dirt on President Trump during the run-up to the election. The FBI have that opportunity years ago to try him and they chose not to. The pre-dawn raid on his home is off of and his second apartment in New York based on a document that was jerry-rigged is against the law. If all else fails and he is convicted then I believe President Trump should pardon him because this whole thing is insane to start with. What they are trying him for is a lavish lifestyle and the judge is putting the kibosh on that. I think the whole Muller thing is blowing up in their face and they're going to have to go out the real culprits and that's Rock Hussein Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton! Thank you for your insightfulness and I enjoy your sense of humor very much.

  • Angel Bulauitan

    08/02/2018 03:27 PM

    Manafort was already found not guilty for the same case/crime, and the judge who heard the case was the same Rosenstein. So his 1st witness to call MUST be Rosenstein.

  • Dave Black

    08/02/2018 03:24 PM

    Seems deeply disturbing that something akin to a Trojan Horse has been used to pursue Mr Manafort and dredge up matters that may have no relevance in respect of the remit accorded the special counsel in relation to the 2016 election. It's like we're coming for you Manafort and any old reason will do legal or otherwise. As we have little conscience about how we do it. One way or another pal we're coming for you. Boom Boom.

  • AJ Stamp

    08/02/2018 03:15 PM

    Governor, you hit this one one the head. Runaway government power is scary.

  • Darlene F. Donston

    08/02/2018 01:42 PM

    Mueller needs to be FIRED ASAP and everything should be thrown out as this is not what was so called hired to find. It was the Russian baloney and since he found nothing, he has gone on to finding piddly things to complain about. Anybody or anything. So tired of all of this and all of OUR Taxpayer money he has wasted. We have a whole lot more important things to clean up, like all the Dimms that have been lying and everything that Obama and Killary did for 8 whole long years! I am also tired of this "Harassing" about President Trump when he has done nothing for impeachment. We all know who should be impeached instead. Also, how about Trumps Family members. Remember back to when we could not say ANYTHING about Dear Little Chelsea or even those Obama girls?? This has got to stop! Thanks for listening to my rant..........as I could have brought in what I think of Big Mouth Maxine and Bernie and the new young Socialist! lol

  • Robert Horn

    08/02/2018 11:57 AM

    There was great angst thorughout the kingdom. Many were claiming that the new king obtained the throne by conspiring with a werewolf living in the forest outside the kingdom's walls. Finally a werewolf catcher was appointed to capture the beast and prove for once and for truth of the matter. The appointed one assembled a great army of experienced sorcerors and hunters and jungle drummers, all at a great expense. They went out into the forest and caught: 2 pigeons, 1 goat, 12 poachers and an assortment of odd ducks. But NO WEREWOLF!

  • Robert Horn

    08/02/2018 11:55 AM

    There was great angst thorughout the kingdom. Many were claiming that the new king obtained the throne by conspiring with a werewolf living in the forest outside the kingdom's walls. Finally a werewolf catcher was appointed to capture the beast and prove for once and for truth of the matter. The appointed one assembled a great army of experienced sorcerors and hunters and jungle drummers, all at a great expense. They went out into the forest and caught: 2 pigeons, 1 goat, 12 poachers and an assortment of odd ducks. But NO WEREWOLF!

  • Camille Patterson

    08/02/2018 11:36 AM

    It seems to be nothing short of Mueller trying to justify this investigation: "Oh, look what we found, now we can dig some more." Law enforcement is supposed to investigate crimes, not people. If we're going to start investigating people, I would like to see every single politician & federal gov't worker investigated for past criminalities. I would also like to see indictments & justice served for the known criminal behavior like that of HC. Since when did the taxpayer agree to give up their hard earned money to start investigating individuals as opposed to actual crimes? I didn't vote to be an indentured servant, (which happens to be illegal), nor did I agree to have my money stolen from me to investigate people. Did anyone else vote for this? Signed: a seething American Patriot.
    Justice is dead in this country, as evidenced by the left continually getting away with known crimes while the right gets investigated to try & find crimes. At this point, why should any American bother to follow any laws?

  • Craig Norton

    08/02/2018 11:08 AM

    With all due respect, Mike, we the people are fed up with the "lip service" we are constantly fed. Not referring to the MSM because they're in their own galaxy of corruption; I'm talking about all you good guys who are championing the cause of justice. All it is is lip service because the dominant opinion on the streets...like 99.999999%...is real criminals like Hiliary Clinton and Barry Obama and their circle of felonious bandits will never face a day in jail. In fact, it would be tantamount to a miracle if a grand jury was even convened regarding these obvious crimes. So our eyes are wide open.

    The DOJ and FBI and others are in the eyes of the people, corrupt. Period. There exists zero confidence in these agencies and the longer it goes without those above the law being humbled and brought to face the music, the larger the danger becomes of we the people never regaining that confidence.

    I know you talk to the POTUS; please tell him he has got to lose Sessions. All of this witch hunt begins with his recusal. President Trump needs to call Rosenstein and Sessions into the Oval Office, at the same time, and look them dead in the eye and tell them: effective immediately your security clearances are revoked and you have until Friday to clear out your offices. Dismissed.

    And that's it; don't offer explanations. Nothing. If they want to fight him on it, let them. In a REAL court of law, not the kangaroo courts Obama has set up everywhere, they will lose. And YES, he definitely needs to revoke a whole bunch of security clearances...should have BEEN DONE long ago.

    President Trump's base will support him on such a measure. Let the RINOs bend and posture and squeal like the little sissies they are. They don't have his back and they don't get to determine his Constitutional authority. Sessions is part of the Deep State. In my eyes, he is a mole for the Deep State and he sided with Trump early in hopes of a position where he could hamstring the President's agenda. And in some part he has done just that.

    All the pundits marvel how none of the corruption of Obama and his intel agencies and State Department would have come to light had Hiliary Clinton won because she would have deep 6 everything. But in reality, to barrow a phrase from the Witch herself, what difference, at this point, does it really make who won the election? President Trump is being persecuted for winning and all the real criminals are laughing, free to have their cognac and wine and weed (in Obama's case) while literally remaining untouchable? Look, I'm a nobody with a check to check existence. But I supported Trump from the moment he came down the escalator. Not because he is famous or a fan of The Apprentice (never watched the show); I was for him because he isn't a lawyer. Lawyers have made DC into the snaky swamp it is today.

    Wanna drain the swamp? Gotta pull the plug on Sessions & Rosenstein. And never sit down with Mueller. There's nothing to hide. Like Guiliani said, put up or shut up.

  • Connie Harrell

    08/02/2018 11:07 AM

    Totally in agreement that this is wrong and not only this! There are so many double standards in this investigation, which was started by a LIE to begin with, that it’s impossible to list them all! ALL of these people should be in jail and not allowed to profit from serving in the government by writing books, making speeches, or whatever they can! I WANT to know WHY the American people CAN'T expect justice in these situations. There should be some kind of accountability for all the lies that have been told! The PRESS should also be held liable for putting out false information! Being a PROUD Veteran, I have so much disappointment and fear for what is happening right before my eyes, knowing I helped defend our way of life! The people that our states are electing as their representation are tearing us apart and are not abiding by our own LAWS and it "confuses" them! They themselves should be arrested for the same! All this tax money being spent on these investigations should actually be repaid to the taxpayers by those that have caused all of this mess, and that would force them to work like we, the average America people, to live, and to live from paycheck to paycheck! Some Trump supporters or campaign helpers that have had to sell everything they own because they were associated with the wrong people at the wrong time, is a complete injustice to our way of life and in our law! If these public servants didn’t profit from serving the people, which is really serving “THEIRSELVES”, had no retirement or body guards for the rest of their life, then they may also think very differently about taking our guns! And HEALTHCARE, why do they have "special" healthcare and not what everyone else uses? AND I could just go on and on! But I won’t!
    Lord God, we need you in such a mighty way to fill the hearts of the ones that breath your air. We need you to come and have your way in our land! I pray for all that read this comment and that it may be taken to heart and also open the eyes of those who may disagree. Please continue to pour your blessings out on our administration in the White House and have your will, not ours! Amen
    On a side note: Sarah Huckabee Sanders is one AWESOME lady that has my respect! She is GREAT at her job and the media can't stand it! Ya'll done good Gov! God Bless!

  • Judith Walker Mullin

    08/02/2018 10:49 AM

    I really feel for Manafort even though I hate that he took Russia's side against Ukraine. None of this would have gone anywhere if Mueller didn't see him as a vulnerable Trump proxy. It is sickening to think of a man spending his life in prison over "trumped up" political pretexts. Thank God Judge Ellis seems to be onto Mueller's game. Thanks for your coverage, Governor! I read you every day.

  • Stephen Shupack

    08/02/2018 10:34 AM

    Governor,

    You've laid out the rationale for pardoning Manafort in a clear and convincing way. If he is convicted in the Eastern District of Virginia or subsequently in Washington DC there's an excellent chance that he'll be pardoned in 2021.

    Thanks as always for sharing your insights.

  • Norman Leal

    08/02/2018 10:23 AM

    Since all this came up about Manafort why wasn't Hillary investigated?

  • Chris Ryan

    08/02/2018 10:04 AM

    This is absolutely ridiculous! The old charges that the government passed on should be thrown out immediately! If he is found guilty of a small crime it should be time served and he should be released! This has gotten out of hand. Rod Rosenstein should answer for changing the scope of the investigation and impeached!

  • Stephen Russell

    08/02/2018 09:38 AM

    Waste of time & prove nothing & Trump looks good, just showcasing for "bravado" & nothing else.
    Solves nothing & Trump still looks good, posotive note: shuts up the media.
    Use budget for probe to lobby to close Probe.If Manafort guilty of crimes, OK send him to prison IF NOT free him

  • Kathleenn Wood

    08/02/2018 06:14 AM

    I watched first hand (not the second hand commentaries) of Trump and Putin. I am pleased that Trump met with Putin. The point was made to reporters that:
    1. Everything a Russian hack might try does not mean it is a government sanctioned action, much like America's George Soros funding nonprofit political groups which do not reflect US policies.
    2. Media and the left's obsession with this is ridiculous. No evidence exits.
    I fear it is simply a smokescreen to mask other more important issues and another attempt in propoganda. Trouble is, it hurts positive relations with Russia, as Trump said, and costs the tax payors dearly while it continues. Please! Enough already!!