Manafort Delivers “Blockbuster Information” on Trump

Before the trial of Paul Manafort there was every reason to believe that Manafort was fearless because he knew Trump would pardon him to ensure that Manafort would remain quiet.  While some speculated that the inability of Trump to pardon Manafort for violation of state crimes was a reason for Manafort to be fearful, the concept of double jeopardy could have prevented a retrial of identical crimes, even if one was a state crime and one was a federal crime.  However the fact that the jury convicted on some crimes and was hung on other claims presented the very worst possible outcome.  If he had been found “not guilty” there would be no need for a pardon, but res judicada would prevent him from being tried again for the same wrongful acts.  If he had been found “guilty” Trump could have pardoned him and he couldn’t be retried due to the res judicada effects of the first trial.  The fact of a mixed outcome was the worst possible result for Manafort.  If Trump pardoned him for the violation of federal crimes he could still be tried for the acts for which the jury was hung under state law.

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For Paul Manafort, if he had dirt on Donald Trump he would not feel threatened by a criminal trial, because if he were found guilty, he could be assured that he would be pardoned by Trump.  It is only in this circumstance that Manafort would see it necessary to enter a plea deal with Mueller.

Usually if a plea deal is going to be entered, it happens before the trial.  Because it was entered AFTER the trial which resulted in a guilty verdict, Manafort’s options would usually be severely limited.  THe only negotiation would relate to the amount of time he would serve, rather than the fact of going to jail. Because he worked out a deal with Manafort AFTER his conviction, it seems obvious that Manafort had dirt on Trump.  In order for Manafort to negotiate a deal, he had to have something with which to negotiate.

As part of the plea deal Manafort pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy against the United States and one count of conspiracy to obstruct justice by witness tampering. He agreed to forfeit several properties and bank accounts, including his property at Trump Tower in New York, as part of his deal.

Trump’s first national security adviser, Michael Flynn, and Richard Gates, a former associate of Manafort’s who testified against him, are also cooperating with Mueller’s probe.  Thus it appears that Mueller may now have at least three witnesses against Trump.  My impressions are confirmed by those attorneys who are more experienced with criminal law.

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Glenn Kirschner, a former prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney’s District of Columbia office, said Paul Manafort has probably already delivered the goods on Trump.  Kirschner explained that Manafort would almost certainly be asked to provide “blockbuster information” to Robert Mueller before investigators would accept his guilty plea.

“I’ve been behind those closed doors in well over 100 meetings in secure interview rooms with defendants who are hoping to become cooperators,” Kirschner said. “There are a couple features that I think are universal in those meetings, and I’m quite sure this is how it played out for the Mueller team.”

He said prosecutors would tell Manafort to list every crime he had committed, and then identify every crime committed by others — and he pointed out the former campaign chairman had taken part in the Trump Tower meeting with Russians offering information against Hillary Clinton.

“They would ask about any crime he knows about, whether Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner or others,” Kirschner said. “Then they begin corroborating everything he’s said with external information. It’s only after they’re satisfied of all of that that , they can offer him a cooperation agreement.”

“My belief is that Mr. Manafort had to deliver some blockbuster, truthful information to get the deal he got.”

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