Why Manafort’s plea deal ought to scare Trump, in 5 phrases


It’s a nasty day to be Trump.

We simply heard what would be the 5 most scary phrases for President Trump but: “He’s agreed to completely cooperate.”

That’s what Kevin Downing, the lead lawyer for Trump’s former marketing campaign chair Paul Manafort, instructed reporters exterior a Washington courthouse on Friday when he introduced that Manafort had agreed to cooperate with particular counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation as a part of a plea deal.

That’s a probably catastrophic consequence for the president.

Right here’s why: As Vox’s Andrew Prokop explains, authorized consultants “have lengthy speculated that the particular counsel’s principal purpose in charging Manafort with monetary and lobbying crimes was to strain him to ‘flip’ — so he’d agree to offer data associated to their true concern of whether or not the Trump marketing campaign conspired with Russia to intrude with the election.”

There may be a minimum of one space particularly that Manafort might be able to present vital details about: the June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower between Donald Trump Jr. and Jared Kushner and a Russian lawyer who claimed to have damaging data on Hillary Clinton.

Manafort additionally took half in that assembly, and can due to this fact have the ability to present Mueller’s investigators with a first-hand account of what went on behind closed doorways that day. He’s additionally the primary attendee on the assembly to work with Mueller.

However that’s probably simply the tip of the iceberg. Manafort additionally had shut contact with two Russians through the marketing campaign: Oleg Deripaska and Konstantin Kilimnik. Deripaska, a infamous Russian oligarch, was as soon as Manafort’s shopper. And Kilimnik was previously Manafort’s longtime enterprise affiliate — and possibly has ties to Russian intelligence.

And that’s simply what the general public already is aware of. It’s totally doable Mueller is aware of much more about interactions between the Trump marketing campaign and Russia.

Which implies that at greatest, Manafort will have the ability to assist Mueller corroborate particulars in regards to the Trump Tower assembly — and whether or not Trump knew about it upfront. At worst, Manafort might be able to present Mueller with a wealth of recent and probably damaging details about the marketing campaign’s ties to Russia.

Both approach, that is actually one of many worst days for Trump but on the subject of the Mueller probe.

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