At the same time that special counsel Robert Mueller has linked Trump insider Roger Stone to Wikileaks, a federal judge has ruled that former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort consistently lied to Mueller's team about the campaign's communications and conspiracy with Russia to flip the 2016 presidential campaign in favor of Trump not withstanding his cooperation agreement. Mueller has now recommended a 24 year prison sentence for Manafort, a virtual life sentence for the 29 year old Manafort. The only plausible reasons for Manafort's repeated lies are (i) a effort to protect Trump, and (ii) the hope for a presidential pardon. A piece in New York Magazine links together what is currently know and maps out at least part of the conspiracy between the Trump campaign and a hostile, enemy power. It' hard not to have the t-word - treason - spring to mind. Here are article excerpts:
Last night, a federal judge ruled that Paul Manafort violated his plea agreement by lying repeatedly to federal prosecutors about the Russia investigation. Some of Manafort’s lies go “very much to the heart of what the special counsel’s office is investigating,” a prosecutor told the court. In particular, Manafort deceived prosecutors about a meeting he had with his former partner and active Russian agent, Konstantin Kilimnik. At this meeting, the two discussed a peace plan to resolve Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the top Russian foreign policy priority. Manafort passed on polling data to Kilimnik, data that was “very detailed” and “very focused,” not just some topline numbers. And according to prosecutors, Manafort did all this in hopes of getting a pardon from President Trump.
Here we have, in this case alone, every single element one would need to establish collusion. There was a meeting between Trump’s campaign manager and a Russian operative; the discussion of something Russia would gain from a Trump victory (a favorable Ukraine settlement); the exchange of information that would assist Russian campaign intervention (polling data that would allow Russia to target its social-media attacks). Also, they left the meeting place via separate entrances. This isn’t merely suspicious. It’s a scene from The Americans.
And perhaps most curious of all, you have the interest of the president. If Manafort was just running a side hustle behind Trump’s back, Trump would have little reason to care about him getting caught. Prosecutors have already charged that Manafort maintained secret contacts with the White House as recently as 2018. Howard Fineman reported last year that, according to “friends and aides” of the president, Trump believes Manafort “isn’t going to ‘flip’ and sell him out.”
The revelations about Manafort have dribbled out slowly enough that it’s easy to lose track of how far along they have come. . . . . This is exactly what you’d expect in the prosecution of a massive conspiracy: The prosecution works its way from the bottom up and the outside in, finding crimes by key figures to force them to testify against higher-ups. Instead, conservatives have treated every step in the prosecution as evidence that Manafort did nothing wrong with Russia.
This defense has been smashed to pieces. There’s a ton of collusion in the case against Manafort. Of course we haven’t even seen the full extent of the charges, much of which is still hidden in the procession of indictments beneath tantalizing black lines. What we already know is that Trump’s campaign manager was working tightly and in secret with Russia during the campaign, and that his interests and those of Donald Trump have been very much in alignment.