Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Don’t Mess With Mueller

Paul Manafort is going to spend Christmas in the joint.

Paul Manafort, President Trump’s former campaign chairman, repeatedly lied to federal investigators in breach of a plea agreement he signed two months ago, the special counsel’s office said in a court filing late on Monday.

Prosecutors working for the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, said Mr. Manafort’s “crimes and lies” about “a variety of subject matters” relieve them of all promises they made to him in the plea agreement. But under the terms of the agreement, Mr. Manafort cannot withdraw his guilty plea.

Defense lawyers disagreed that Mr. Manafort had violated the deal. In the same filing, they said Mr. Manafort had met repeatedly with the special counsel’s office and “believes he has provided truthful information.”

But given the impasse between the two sides, they asked Judge Amy Berman Jackson of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia to set a sentencing date for Mr. Manafort, who has been in solitary confinement in a detention center in Alexandria, Va.

The 11th-hour development in Mr. Manafort’s case is a fresh sign of the special counsel’s aggressive approach in investigating Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential race and whether anyone in the Trump campaign knew about or assisted Moscow’s effort.

Mueller’s willingness to let the lawyers broadcast Manafort’s broken deal tells us that he — Mueller — doesn’t really need Manafort anymore in terms of gathering evidence and whatever happens now is beyond the scope of his usefulness.  So, so long, Paul; have fun in the general population of Club Fed.  (Why he would continue to lie even when he’s already in custody and found guilty is beyond comprehension, but then, the guy worked willingly for Trump, so go figure that into the equation.)

It also sends a very strong signal to anyone out there in Trumpland who is thinking about covering their boss or their own ass: Mueller and Co. are a force to be reckoned with and not to be trifled with.