Paul Manafort is safely checked into the crossbar Hilton. Call me shallow, but I can’t see, hear, say, type, or even think that without involuntarily breaking out in giggles. But, in deference to his elevated stature, Manafort is housed in the “VIP” section of the county lockup. I’m not sure, but I think that means that the roaches are required to wear white tie and tails, and he gets black plastic forks and spoons instead of white ones.
Paul Manafort has been confusing me for a while now. Early on, I took it that Manafort was hanging tough in an attempt to get a better deal from Robert Mueller. Then, after the indictments, I figured he was holding out to try to find out more about what the prosecutor had on him in early court filings. But now, with a trial date set, Manafort’s attorneys should have long ago had access to “discovery” of prosecution evidence, so he has to know what that he’s in the hurt locker. And yet he’s sleeping in jail, sans silk jammies, sitting on plastic chairs at a table without a dazzling white tablecloth, chowing down on protein loaf twice a day. What is he waiting for?
It is inconceivable to me that Manafort won’t flip at some point, for one simple reason. In Manafort’s circumstances, a Presidential pardon from Trump won’t make this all go away. Manafort is facing a cornucopia of charges, from wire fraud, to bank fraud, to money laundering. All of them are federal charges, but most of them, if not all could just as easily be filed and prosecuted in New York state court, since some of the properties used in money laundering were located in New York, and New York based banks were involved. If Trump pardons Manafort, the state AG can just take the whole fat file, and file state charges, where Manafort’s get-out-of-jail-free card ain’t worth diddly squat. Only Mueller can wave his magic wand and make the state charges disappear, in return for cooperation with the state for other prosecutions stemming from his information.
There is some question about whether New York State would be able to prosecute Manafort on the same charges under the state’s “double jeopardy” law. This is an open question, with a couple of hefty risks to it. First of all, if Trump jumps the gun and pardons Manafort preemptively, he risks having the NY AG be able to prosecute everything, since double jeopardy normally means that a defendant can’t be “tried” for the same case twice. But if Manafort is pardoned before opening arguments, he hasn’t been tried for anything. And second, Mueller’s team have examined Manafort’s business dealings right down to his DNA. I find it highly likely that they haven’t uncovered financial skulduggery that isn’t a natural fit for federal prosecution, but is tailor made for a strong state case. It would surprise me greatly if Mueller had not slid those leads under the door of the NY AG’s office. There would be no double jeopardy there, since Manafort was never charged with them in federal court.
But there’s risk for Manafort at the state level in both New York and Virginia that have nothing to do with the current federal charges. Manafort has been charged in federal court with money laundering for the purpose of tax evasion. Both New York and Virginia have state income taxes. If Manafort was diddling money from offshore accounts to avoid paying federal income taxes, I highly doubt that he reported the income properly on his state tax filings. And just for shits-n-grins, let’s not forget that Manafort used falsified documents in his application to that Chicago bank for a loan, placing him squarely in the sights of the Illinois AG for bank fraud.
Now, one or more of y’all may have an insight that my feeble, overworked mind is missing. But I’m damned if I can figure out why Paul Manafort is putting himself through the nightmare of incarceration when he must realize by this time that his only lifeline to anything even approaching a normal existence runs through the tender mercies of Robert Mueller, the only one who can make all of his troubles go away. I just don’t get it.
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