Paul Manafort, who was briefly Donald Trump’s campaign manager, has been ordered to jail for allegedly attempting to tamper with witnesses, and is facing a boatload of financial and paperwork violation charges that, as a former Watergate prosecutor put it, could send the 69-year-old to prison for the rest of his life. By comparison, in some states, you can get as little as one year for manslaughter.
I have no idea whether Paul Manafort is the process crime equivalent of John Gotti that Javert-like prosecutor Robert Mueller seems to think he is – or is pretending to think that he is, so he can keep pouring indictments onto Manafort's head like a waterboarding with writs, until he forces him to accuse Trump of something, anything, so that his endless, multi-million dollar “Russia collusion” investigation doesn’t fizzle like a wet firecracker. But I do know this:
For all the charges that have been leveled at Manafort, all the ones that now threaten to keep him in the Gray Bar Hotel for life, not a single one has Jack Squat to do with Russia influencing the 2016 election results. As for the witness tampering charge, I have no idea whether he’s guilty or not. But if true, then Manafort must be the fastest witness tamperer in history, since the only direct evidence is that he allegedly made a phone call that lasted all of one minute and 26 seconds.
Rather than opine on laws I’m not an expert on, I will direct you to this article by a genuine legal expert, and one who admits he “disdains” Trump and has no use for Manafort – yet even he seems stunned by just how “thin” Mueller’s evidence is.
Again, I don’t pretend to know whether Paul Manafort is a scoundrel deserving of life in prison or just a no-more-sleazy-than-average DC lobbyist caught in a Kafkaesque nightmare by an out-of-control, partisan prosecutor. But what’s indisputable is that this began as an investigation into alleged Russian collusion and morphed into the threat of life in prison for unrelated offenses including allegedly making a phone call to a witness (whom Manafort claims he didn’t even know was a witness) of an alleged crime that has nothing to do with what was supposed to be investigated in the first place. This should serve as a chilling lesson in the danger of not strictly limiting the power and scope of prosecutors, to prevent them from pursuing people instead of crimes.