Former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, who was fired for not playing ball with Donald Trump last September told CNN this morning that it’s probable that Paul Manafort would flip on Trump in order to avoid prison time.
Bharara: “ Maybe Paul Manafort will, in the parlance we use in law enforcement, ‘flip.’ Sometimes that happens before a charge is brought like what looks like happened last week with George Papadopoulos. Investigators will make an approach, say ‘we have good evidence against you,’ and they probably did that with Papadopoulos and he said okay and cooperated.”
Bharara: “With Paul Manafort, he did not. Sometimes though after people’s minds get focused because a criminal charge is brought to bear on them, they have to retain counsel, they go to court and they’re confronted with the enormity of what is facing them, meaning the loss of their liberty. They sometimes flip then.”
Zakaria: “Do you think there’s a good chance Manafort will go to jail?”
Bharara: “Look, I don’t know all the evidence that the special counsel’s office has, but they’re pretty straight-forward charges that you can prove without many witnesses,” Bharara said. “It’s not a lifetime in prison but it’s a substantial prison sentence and I expect that Paul Manafort and his lawyers are talking about the idea of cooperating. They may never do it, some people do it, some don’t. It may be the case that he doesn’t have significant things to say that are worth the time on the part of the special counsel’s office. But I think all of those things are in play and we haven’t heard the end of it.”
Zakaria: “If the president pardons Manafort or Papadopoulos, is that obstruction of justice?”
Bharara: “I think that’s an open question. I think it’s a terrible thing for the rule of law...it sends a terrible message to every prosecutor in the country...I also think that whether or not it’s provable obstruction...that that then becomes something that Congress can think about with respect to impeachment. I’m not saying it’s impeachable but for the House of Representatives to take action, they don’t have to show that every element of a statute was met to vote for articles of impeachment.”