The indictments

October 31, 2017

In case you ever doubted, Paul Manafort and Rick Gates entered pleas of “not guilty” to money laundering and the entire laundry list of a dozen charges that special counsel Robert Mueller hit them with. They have the money for very good lawyers, who seem ready to rumble. Manafort’s attorney told reporters that the money laundering charge was “ridiculous,” and Gates’ spokesman declared that they welcome the opportunity to confront these charges in court and that “the fight is just beginning.” So if Mueller’s plan was to scare them into cooperating, it doesn’t seem to have worked, at least not judging by their public responses.

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The charges, which include the ominous charge of “conspiracy against the United States,” seem designed for maximum headline impact, but require a lot of explanation for a legal layman to grasp. Here is one article explaining that biggie.

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On the other hand, former federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy thinks Manafort and Gates’ attorneys might think they have a strong case that this is selective prosecution and overcharging, as explained in this National Review article. There’s a saying that you can indict a ham sandwich, the idea being that grand juries hear only the prosecutor’s testimony, not the defense. This might be more of a ham salad indictment, the kind where you toss in everything and throw it at the wall to see if anything sticks.

McCarthy notes that there are felony charges in this case for things that are normally misdemeanors or beyond the statute of limitations or that usually aren’t even prosecuted at all (a lobbyist failing to register as a foreign agent is generally simply told to register, not indicted for a felony). McCarthy thinks they may argue that it’s a politically-motivated prosecution that never would have been brought if Manafort hadn’t spent a brief period working for Donald Trump’s campaign. Judging from prior experience, I think it’s safe to say that if he’d worked for Hillary, he would have been exonerated months before he was even investigated.

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Other developments since yesterday included reports that one-time Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos, who pleaded guilty to one count of lying to an investigator back in January, had been cooperating with the probe, which led to speculation that he might have worn a wire to try to get higher Trump campaign associates to say incriminating things that were secretly recorded. But that's not confirmed, it could also taint any evidence, and along with claims that the Obama Administration relied on the scurrilous “Russian dossier” to wiretap Trump associates, it could bolster the argument that the government abused its surveillance powers for partisan purposes.

The problem with special counsels is that like using vicious dogs to attack your enemies, if you can’t control them, they can turn on you. The other big story from Monday was that Tony Podesta, major Democratic player and brother of Hillary’s campaign chairman John Podesta, has stepped down from his powerful lobbying firm, the Podesta Group, which is now embroiled in the story of who really paid for that “Russian dossier” on Trump.

This could be part of what Andrew McCarthy was talking about when he mentioned that Manafort and Gates are being charged for things that many DC lobbying firms do that, while they may appear unethical, aren’t usually treated as illegal – until now. Some analysts pointed out something interesting: in their zeal to “get” Trump, Democrats and anti-Trumpers who pushed the “Russian collusion” narrative and demanded a special counsel still haven’t found any proof of Trump colluding with Russia, but they might have set off an uncontrolled panic wave among Washington lobbying firms that could scare them into cleaning up their shady practices and dumping their most notorious practitioners.

So ironically, and unintentionally, Trump’s enemies might actually be helping him “drain the Washington swamp.”

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Comments 1-23 of 23

  • Mark Schnorr

    11/01/2017 10:17 PM

    Mike,
    Your analysis is always spot on and honest.
    God Bless You !

  • Jay

    11/01/2017 10:11 PM

    I'm sick of this Hillary, Obama, BS against America. As a citizen I demand they all be tried for treason against the country.
    And I am announcing my campaign for senate as an independent. I will spend every day of my senate career working for the people of the state of Florida and advocating for the cleansing of our government from establishment shadow government and advocating the abolishment of the CIA just like JFK

  • Audrey Morris

    11/01/2017 12:02 PM

    I as a Christian am so dishearted with Washington period... Where has honesty, respect. love, family gone in America. I firmly believe God is watching. They are fighting over PARTIES. get rid of the parties and move on.. Today I hear about NYC... POLITICS SHOULD NOT BE INVOLVED IN TERRISOM . President Trump was not my number 1 person, but I voted for him. He has been elected President of the United States and as citizens we need to respect that and let him try to do his job. Everyone will get there own opportunity to vote again. Im disheartened that my vote means nothing when Washington won't work together.

  • Dickie R. Cox

    11/01/2017 11:20 AM

    If...any of this has truth to it, I mean, that Muellar, indictments, investigation /allegations, are so awful, to scare or intimidate, why aren't GOP leaders, why aren't Republicans countering. Fighting, screaming, certainly they can turn this back, by getting another Judge or court order...something


  • Amy Mischler

    11/01/2017 08:09 AM

    Two issues; First, do these indictments exceed the scope of the investigation? A special investigation should be limited to the matters of which it was created to investigate. Otherwise, every special investigation will end up with an indictment of something on somebody just to prove that it's existence was necessary. The purpose of a special investigation is to limit it to special matters.

    Second, the FISA Court wasn't told necessary information regarding the Trump dossier such as who paid for it which probably would have caused the FISA Court to not issue the warrant due to lack of credibility. Which in turn the Mueller special prosecution team would not have been able to obtain the information it needed to secure the indictment.

    There is a reason our Founding Fathers did not want a closed court system. What happened with the FISA Court and the Trump dossier impugns the integrity of the FISA Court. It's not the judges fault but that of the DOJ. But with a closed court system with no public transparency; how many other times has the DOJ misrepresented the truth to the FISA Court, even its only by omission? It's time our legislators rethink the secrecy of the FISA Court.

  • Dee Pozarowski

    11/01/2017 07:53 AM

    I find the timing interesting. Recently there were calls for him to step down and even more to end the investigation. Also, the "leak" on Friday took the headlines away from the dossier story.

  • Jason Traxler

    10/31/2017 11:29 PM

    Mike, you as a man of the cloth, know better than a majority of readers that God is in control. But, that means totally in control. Just as most people see the beatitudesas being upside down, we may not see the presents of His works. Just as the diciples, who were familiar with the sea, lost faith, it is easy for the average citizen who knows even less about Washington to lose faith in His works when we see so, so much ongoing treachery. Prayer takes over where platitudes fail. God bless the President and God save our country.

  • Edgardo F Herrera

    10/31/2017 10:04 PM

    I'm not sure if I'm getting this correctly, but if the false Russia Dossier was used as justification to obtain a the FISA warrant that began this whole Special Prosecutor investigation, wouldn't all evidence collected under that illegally obtained FISA warrant be inadmissible in any court? Shouldn't the MI5 agent along with the company that produced the dossier be prosecuted for the false reporting and conspiring the alter the result of the 2016 elections? Again, if the special prosecutor was convened on false premises, shouldn't it be cancelled?

  • William Ackerman

    10/31/2017 09:45 PM

    Manafort and Gates are going to get hit with nothing, attorney fees are going to be more than the fine. This is embarrassing to Mueller after how many millions spent and how many months. Time this one went away and the next one is called to get to the whole Democrat mess of Hillary. One for The uranium and murder of ranchers too

  • Mark Miller

    10/31/2017 07:57 PM

    How is their action of leaving millions of dollars in Cyprus any different than major corporations leaving billions overseas and not reporting it?

  • Debbie Swisher

    10/31/2017 04:45 PM

    The foxes watching the hen house. I don't even understand why Mueller is on this case. He was in the midst of the Uranium One Deal. If people start falling on it, he goes down too. This is crazy. It's all enter twined as they investigate it.

  • Bruce Nason

    10/31/2017 04:14 PM

    Hillary Clinton, queen of incompetency and corruption since 1978. She must be so proud.

  • George Lain

    10/31/2017 03:49 PM

    AS the government is filled with millionaire politicians,, many never ever having a real job, are treated as royalty, above the law. The common people are their subjects and have to bow to their will.

  • Shannon Yochum

    10/31/2017 03:09 PM

    I'm thinking you are correct and keep praying the sowers will reap sooner than later! God bless you and your awesome daughter for pursuing nothing but truth!

  • Donald McKee

    10/31/2017 02:44 PM

    Do
    You think that this whole thing we ever be over note if you had won would things be like they are now?

  • Marina Samaniego

    10/31/2017 02:38 PM

    I am sick to death of this nonsense. Will Hillary or Obama EVER be indicted for any of their crimes? Can no one see that justice is done? We keep hearing about their crimes but it never goes anywhere. Yet this witchhunt continues. All the liberals are celebrating and claiming it will lead to Trump. Meanwhile denying anything done by Hillary and Obama. It's frustrating!

  • Marguerite Freda

    10/31/2017 02:23 PM

    This whole thing is Outrageous, Mueller is just as crooked as Hillary. The Swamp is in full swing on all sides trying to take down Our Great President. As far as "turning a witness" there's nothing to turn but their gonna drag this out as long as they can 2018 coming up. I think President TRUMP should fire Mueller and everyone else that worked for Obama. I'm currently mad at DOJ the Special Prosecutor all these leaks. One more thing your daughter is the best press Secretary Ever, she doesn't take any crap from the main stream media I watch her everyday good job Dad

  • Ricky Jennings

    10/31/2017 02:19 PM

    The whole government is in this mess, so nothing or no one will be put in jail. If the investigation gets to close to the main characters the there will be a fall guy that will shoot his self in the back of his head twice

  • Jason Traxler

    10/31/2017 02:14 PM

    Mike, you as a man of the cloth, know better than a majority of readers that God is in control. But, that means totally in control. Just as most people see the beatitudesas being upside down, we may not see the presents of His works. Just as the diciples, who were familiar with the sea, lost faith, it is easy for the average citizen who knows even less about Washington to lose faith in His works when we see so, so much ongoing treachery. Prayer takes over where platitudes fail. God bless the President and God save our country.

  • Ann J

    10/31/2017 02:12 PM

    Mueller has to do something so he and his other democratzis can continue to rake in all those millions for their fat pocketbooks. That money may be put to use for 2018 elections.

  • Joe Bell

    10/31/2017 02:11 PM

    I think this could be the Lords hand at work to pull the plug on the DC swamp and the Globalists strong holds of the DNC and the Clintons'. All finger pointing starts with the acts that they themselves have done. Using the media to force their argument.

  • Amy J Moore

    10/31/2017 02:03 PM

    Can you please explain more on it appearing like Hillary's campaign manager(Podesta) and Trump former campaign manager(Manafort) were in bed together(business, not literally)?
    How can this happen? This situation stinks of a set-up!

  • Vickie Correll-Rick

    10/31/2017 02:00 PM

    Mike why in the heck hasnt Trump gotten rid of Sessions? This is an excellent time to get all the quilty as sin Democrats prosecuted. All the way up to the most criminally insane Obama. On another note your daughter is awesome. I look forward to every press conference to watch her ule the roost.