I heard a commenter on NPR last night say that if Paul Manafort is acquitted, it will be a big setback for the Mueller investigation. Trump and his minions will crow that it proves the whole thing is a rigged witch hunt and that if the prosecution can’t make the case against the former campaign manager, they won’t be able to prove anything against anybody else. Trump will go on with his rallies and his bloviation, Fox News will carry on as if he’s been totally vindicated, and the imagination shies away from speculating as to what comes next. And it’s all up to twelve people on a jury.
I have no doubt whatsoever that no matter what the outcome of the Manafort trial, Mr. Mueller and his team will press on. The case against Manafort has nothing to do with the election of 2016 other than he was the campaign manager when the Russians came calling, and Trump’s obstruction of justice has been solely about keeping Mueller and law enforcement away from him and his activities. But the optics of a Manafort acquittal mean that the next trial — either in court or in front of the cameras on the courthouse steps — will be that much harder to win.