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Pierce writes: "Paul Manafort is in trouble. No, really. He's in more trouble than he was before, which was considerable."

Paul Manafort. (photo: Drew Angerer)
Paul Manafort. (photo: Drew Angerer)

Paul Manafort May Have Something Much Worse Than Prison to Be Afraid Of

By Charles Pierce, Esquire

29 November 18

Or, perhaps, he's banking on a pardon. Why else would he cross Robert Mueller again?

"In the months before his death," Dr Mortimer went on, "Sir Charles was a very worried man. He was near to breaking down. He believed the story of the Hound of the Baskervilles. He refused to go out at night. He often asked me whether I had seen any strange animal or heard the cry of a hound on the moor at night. He always got very excited when he asked this question."

—The Hound of the Baskervilles, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, April, 1902.

aul Manafort is in trouble. No, really. He's in more trouble than he was before, which was considerable. A compulsive operator, he has managed to maneuver himself into a corner. Robert Mueller and his team believe that Manafort never has stopped lying to them, even in the middle of plea negotiations, and even after the plea was, you know, negotiated. From The New York Times:

Prosecutors working for the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, said Mr. Manafort’s “crimes and lies” about “a variety of subject matters” relieve them of all promises they made to him in the plea agreement. But under the terms of the agreement, Mr. Manafort cannot withdraw his guilty plea. Defense lawyers disagreed that Mr. Manafort had violated the deal. In the same filing, they said Mr. Manafort had met repeatedly with the special counsel’s office and “believes he has provided truthful information.” But given the impasse between the two sides, they asked Judge Amy Berman Jackson of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia to set a sentencing date for Mr. Manafort, who has been in solitary confinement in a detention center in Alexandria, Va.

The question, of course, is whether Manafort is completely stupid, overwhelmingly confident that he will be pardoned, or simply frightened by something even more terrifying than the prospect of spending his declining years in the federal sneezer—something like, say, a lovely bowl of strontium-90, served up to him by a concerned former overseas client. I used to laugh the latter explanation off. I don't do that anymore. Something is happening in Manafort's brainbox that dwarfs in his mind anything Mueller can do to him.

In any case, it is plain that Mueller and his team are fed up to the gills with this guy, and that they are shining up the really big hammer for future use. It is also plain that Manafort has spent a lot of the time during which he was incarcerated sawing off the branch behind him.

Mr. Manafort had hoped that in agreeing to cooperate with Mr. Mueller’s team, prosecutors would argue that he deserved a lighter punishment. He is expected to face at least a decade-long prison term for 10 felony counts including financial fraud and conspiracy to obstruct justice. Instead, after at least a dozen sessions interrogating him, the special counsel’s prosecutors have not only decided Mr. Manafort does not deserve leniency, but they also could seek to refile other charges that they had agreed to dismiss as part of the plea deal.

Meanwhile, the Guardian found another spot on the coffin into which to drive a nail. This latest tale involves Julian Assange, onetime squatter-in-residence in the Ecuadorian embassy, and a man who exchanged his reputation as a messianic truth-teller for a career as a common ratfcker.

Sources have said Manafort went to see Assange in 2013, 2015 and in spring 2016 – during the period when he was made a key figure in Trump’s push for the White House. It is unclear why Manafort would have wanted to see Assange and what was discussed. But the last apparent meeting is likely to come under scrutiny and could interest Robert Mueller, the special prosecutor who is investigating alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

A well-placed source has told the Guardian that Manafort went to see Assange around March 2016. Months later WikiLeaks released a stash of Democratic emails stolen by Russian intelligence officers. Manafort, 69, denies involvement in the hack and says the claim is “100% false”. His lawyers declined to answer the Guardian’s questions about the visits. In a series of tweets WikiLeaks said Assange and Manafort had not met. Assange described the story as a hoax.

I'm certainly convinced. How about you?

A separate internal document written by Ecuador’s Senain intelligence agency and seen by the Guardian lists “Paul Manaford [sic]” as one of several well-known guests. It also mentions “Russians”. According to the sources, Manafort returned to the embassy in 2015. He paid another visit in spring 2016, turning up alone, around the time Trump named him as his convention manager. The visit is tentatively dated to March.

Manafort’s 2016 visit to Assange lasted about 40 minutes, one source said, adding that the American was casually dressed when he exited the embassy, wearing sandy-coloured chinos, a cardigan and a light-coloured shirt. Visitors normally register with embassy security guards and show their passports. Sources in Ecuador, however, say Manafort was not logged.

Well, if a foreign intelligence service goes out of its way to memorialize that you showed up at their embassy dressed like Ward Cleaver, you're really busted, I'd say. (Where was the ostrich jacket? At the cleaners?) At the very least, this brings the heat closer to Number One Son, Sluggo.

The previously unreported Manafort-Assange connection is likely to be of interest to Mueller, who has been investigating possible contacts between WikiLeaks and associates of Trump including the political lobbyist Roger Stone and Donald Trump Jr. One key question is when the Trump campaign was aware of the Kremlin’s hacking operation – and what, if anything, it did to encourage it. Trump has repeatedly denied collusion.

Earlier this year Mueller indicted 12 GRU intelligence officers for carrying out the hack, which began in March 2016. In June of that year WikiLeaks emailed the GRU via an intermediary seeking the DNC material. After failed attempts, Vladimir Putin’s spies sent the documents in mid-July to WikiLeaks as an encrypted attachment.

On the electric Twitter machine Tuesday morning, the president* was even more manic than usual. Scrolling through the presidential* Twitter feed, you could feel the flop sweat soaking through to your fingertips. This is, perhaps, my favorite moment in the now customary early morning tantrum.

The Fake News Media builds Bob Mueller up as a Saint, when in actuality he is the exact opposite. He is doing TREMENDOUS damage to our Criminal Justice System, where he is only looking at one side and not the other. Heroes will come of this, and it won’t be Mueller and his terrible Gang of Angry Democrats. Look at their past, and look where they come from. The now $30,000,000 Witch Hunt continues and they’ve got nothing but ruined lives. Where is the Server? Let these terrible people go back to the Clinton Foundation and “Justice” Department!

I just love, Where is the Server?, and not just for the capitalization, either. It's one of those moments that occurs in his speeches, too, when he's rolling along and, suddenly, like a grouse startled from the underbrush, another word he heard somewhere pops into his head. At moments like this, it's like listening to a Hannity radio show on Scan.

And Robert Mueller, with no expression on his face, reaches across his desk for another file.

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-95 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2018-11-29 14:30
The non-Mueller cheerleaders out there in the media have a totally different reading of these events. What is happening is that all the people Mueller has perjury trapped into telling Mueller's lies about Trump's collusion with Russia are now rebelling. They are no longer afraid of Mueller and are just refusing to cooperate with him. As it has turned out, their plea agreements did not save them from destruction. Mueller has destroyed them financially and shows no signs of stopping that destruction any time soon.

I heard Joe DiGenova on a radio program making this point. He also said that he has now reluctantly come to the conclusion that Mueller must be fired. He thinks Trump should appoint an attorney general who has been through the Senate confirmation process. The new AG should call Mueller in and ask him "when will this all end"? If Mueller says, "I don't know" as DiGenova thinks he would, then the new AG should say it just ended, you are fired, get out by the end of the day.

DiGenova spent a long time talking about Meuller's unethical tactics. He has no supervision at the DOJ. Normally, an AG would review his work and give him guidelines about what to do and not do. Sessions exempted himself and Rosenstein is part of the anti-Trump conspiracy. Mueller is totally off the rails and is humiliating the DOJ, DiGenova thinks.

In the case at hand, Mueller is frustrated that Manafort won't lie for him, so he's going to punish Manafort. This is how tyrants work.
+17 # Porfiry 2018-11-30 08:09
Again, the Russian slant. Defending the indefensible. Trashing Mueller as Putin would wish. Ordered?
+15 # RMF 2018-11-30 12:45
Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha. ..(if RR is in good faith then he/she is certifiably nutty ...and in reply this is all his/her screed do otherwise would dignify the indefensible!)
+8 # tclose 2018-11-30 23:17
Whew! I’ve read some really wild comments from our resident Putin booster, but this one takes the cake.

Trump’s minions are telling Mueller’s lies? You’ve got to be kidding.

And somehow Mueller is destroying all these poor people? This has nothing to do with them breaking the law, right?

Using a full fledged conspiracy theorist (and Trump mouthpiece), Joe DiGenova, as a credible source? Gimme a break.

What planet are you living on, Rody?
-2 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2018-12-02 10:09
tclose -- "Trump’s minions are telling Mueller’s lies? You’ve got to be kidding."

You are just not paying attention. Jerome Corsi has filed a criminal complaint with the DOJ against Mueller for subornation of perjury, that is, coercing him to give false testimony. Several others are doing this as well.

Forcing defendants to tell lies is what corrupt prosecutors do.

You have the same problem as Pierce -- you get all of your information from only one side. Try looking around a bit. You might learn something.
-53 # bevin 2018-11-29 17:32
The Assange meeting story may convince Pierce but it doesn't convince anyone else.
Politico is now suggesting that it was a set up designed to discredit the author Harding, masterminded by the Russians! The nonsense just keeps in coming.
Even Marcy Wheeler who has made a new career out of believing anything that Mueller leaks to her can't stomach the idiocy that somehow, without being noticed, Manafort slipped into the Ecuadorian Embassy and co-ordinated the leaking of DNC emails with Julian Assange.
Mr Pierce is a talented writer. In this case his product is fiction. I just hope for his sake that he knows it.
+12 # jon 2018-11-29 20:40
I am suspicious that Charles Pierce read a lot of Mark Twain when he was growing up.
+24 # Texas Aggie 2018-11-29 21:23
There are few better social observers to model yourself after than Mr. Clemens.
+4 # tpmco 2018-11-29 22:13
Hello Charles Pierce. Welcome to the Rachel Maddow show.
+20 # diamondmarge7 2018-11-30 02:22
Drumpf may pardon on the FEDERAL level, but he has no jurisdictional authority on a state level.
Too bad good legal minds won't work for him;[he is a cheapskate who has--it has been copiously documented--sti ffed many people] I am hoping that this pathetic, yet truly dangerous man won't B able to slither out of this one. As Shakespeare wrote in Hamlet, " 'Tis a consummation devoutly to be wished."

Of course DJT knew all about the Tower mtg. He is lying; DOESN'T HE ALWAYS?
+13 # James Klimaski 2018-11-30 04:30
No mention of Cohen? They are all tied together. The actions alleged to Manafort are in line with the way Trump and his organization have always operated. Going after the Presidency put them into league where their method of play would be watched by a different, more professional set of umpires.
-8 # ljslotnick 2018-11-30 07:55
Mr Pierce needs to watch the first part of this interview regarding Assange:
-4 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2018-12-01 07:29
Thanks for this link. It is very good. I doubt if people like Pierce care. But the rest of us should.
+24 # IAMMe 2018-11-30 09:30
#Rodion Raskolnikov (Russian name?)
First - DeGenova is not an objective party by any means. He is obviously a right-winger who would not look at anything in a way other than the way the far Right paints it.
Second - Wow! Mueller sure was able to "perjury trap" a ton of people! Mind you, you cannot be caught in a perjury trap unless you are lying about something - contrary to the right-wing mantra.
Third - Mueller was a highly respected Republican - respected by both parties - until he was not on Trump's side
-3 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2018-12-01 07:37
IAM -- yes, correct. DiGenova is a right winger. But that does not mean he can't be right on some issues. I think he is correct on the Muellergate Probe.

I'm not like you. I don't adhere religiously to one side and hate everything about the other side. Sectarian warfare is pointless to me. Sometimes conservatives have good points and sometimes liberals have good points. I try to evaluate the issue and not the sect that is pushing the points.

You don't seem to understand a perjury trap. You don't need to lie in order to be perjury trapped. A perjury trap is the way a federal prosecutor or investigator gains control over witnesses. They can then demand that a witness say what they want him/her to say or face a criminal charge. The case of Papadopoulos is a clear example. He said to Mueller's people that Downer first raised the subject of Russian dirt on Hillary. Downer said the opposite, that Papadopoulos raised it. Mueller believed Downer, although Downer never testified to this under oath. It did not matter. Mueller had the leverage against Papadopoulos.

You should read something on Mueller. He's the second most corrupt FBI director after Hoover. Read this

It is only the corporatist media that has whitewashed Mueller and that is because he's a hatchetman for corporations and the powerful.
-1 # Robbee 2018-11-30 10:23
Paul Manafort May Have Something Much Worse Than Prison to Be Afraid Of? - Charles Pierce, Esquire, 29 November 18

what? loss of reputation? loss of his brand? loss of a manor? loss of another prosecution? - what?

midnight k testified, under oath, as fact that dems had just "destroyed" his reputation AND his family!

does manafort have more to lose than midnight k, new lifetime member of scotus? - who lost all that he claims to have valued most? forever? - how will that happen?

mueller is setting manafort up for a "come to jesus" moment!

mueller just tightened the noose -if anyone says they know how manafort will react, presumably they are speculating
-17 # Anne Frank 2018-11-30 13:05
So Mueller has obtained convictions of Trump associates for lying. So what? None of the lies or convictions have any relation to the alleged meddling by the Russian government in the 2016 election. Pierce states as facts accusations intended to whip the masses into hatred for Russia, but unsupported by any evidence. So what is the purpose ? Cui bono?
-12 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2018-11-30 20:38
Who knows what Pierce wants to do with an article like this. He says Manafort may face something worse but what could be worse than the solitary confinement he is now in. Solitary confinement is a form of torture. The CIA perfected this technique in the 1050s through 70s. It is basically sensory deprivation and that can cause psychosis and permanent brain damage. Mueller is torturing Manafort so that he will lie about Trump and Russia. Cui bono? Mueller, that's who.

People need to understand the connections between Mueller and Bill Clinton. They go way back. Mueller is part of Clinton's "muscle."
-4 # Porfiry 2018-11-30 14:59
Anyone willing to bet the house that the Russian angle is phony? I suggest you not risk it.
+1 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2018-12-02 10:13
Porf -- I think we know the origin of the Russia angle. It was a CIA/MI6 covert op that was passed on to the Hillary campaign and the FBI/DOJ.

Trump may declassify some documents from the spring and summer of 2016 that will finally and totally prove this. If he does, we will all know for sure what the origins of the Russia story are. But I doubt that most corporatist media and their drones like you will believe it. You can read it in plain English but you won't believe it. This is Orwellian beyond measure. 2+2=5.
+8 # OldSalt65 2018-11-30 19:09
It's sad to watch as our nation/empire dies of corruption and greed but the Trump Inc. drama provides good material for a 6-12 part series to be watched by who or what follows us. Bigger and better than Boardwalk Empire. We could use a few bodies to juice it up. Manafort might just be first, but not the last, I'll bet
0 # eafinct 2018-12-02 20:05
I think you all are missing the point. If Manafort is pardoned and goes free, he's a dead man, courtesy of the KGB or the Russian mob. "The question, of course, is whether Manafort is completely stupid, overwhelmingly confident that he will be pardoned, or simply frightened by something even more terrifying than the prospect of spending his declining years in the federal sneezer—somethi ng like, say, a lovely bowl of strontium-90, served up to him by a concerned former overseas client."

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