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Trump's Beast in the Night
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If you have been following the serious destruction brought about by Hurricane Florence in North Carolina and the political turmoil caused by the allegations of teenage sexual misconduct made by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford against Judge Brett Kavanaugh, along with his firm and unbending denials, you might have missed a profound event in a federal courtroom in the nation’s capital late last week.

The Florence damage may take years to repair, and the Kavanaugh nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court, which once seemed assured, at this writing is in a sort of limbo, pending an Anita Hill/Clarence Thomas-like confrontation before the Senate Judiciary Committee next week. But when Paul Manafort, President Donald Trump’s one-time campaign chair, entered a guilty plea in federal court last week, it created the potential for a political earthquake.

Here is the backstory.

Manafort was indicted by two federal grand juries — one in Arlington, Virginia, and the other in Washington, D.C. — for financial crimes committed before and during his time running the 2016 Trump presidential campaign. Both prosecutions have been led by Robert Mueller, the Department of Justice-appointed special counsel charged with investigating whether there was a conspiracy between the Trump campaign and people working for the Russian government.

Often, when prosecutors are looking for evidence of crime A, they find evidence of crime B. This is what happened to Manafort. Yet, as the trial judge said in Manafort’s Virginia trial last month, which ended in convictions on 8 of 18 charges, the feds were indeed looking for evidence of crime B as well. We all know that the principal reason for pursuing Manafort on financial crimes has been to squeeze him for what he knows about Trump.

Last week, on the eve of Manafort’s second trial, that prosecutorial strategy paid off when he entered a guilty plea before a federal judge in Washington, D.C. Manafort’s guilty plea is unique and extraordinary. In the plea, Manafort, who only pleaded guilty to two federal crimes — witness tampering and conspiracy to defraud the government — also admitted that he committed dozens of other federal and state crimes.

This was intentionally maneuvered by Mueller as part of the plea agreement so as to make it bulletproof from a presidential pardon. I have never seen this before. The president can only pardon federal crimes. Should he do so for Manafort, state prosecutors in New York, Virginia and California — the states where these crimes (mainly bank fraud) to which Manafort admitted under oath actually took place — can seek indictments immediately. It will be easy to indict and easy to convict Manafort because of his public admissions last Friday.


The pattern of crimes to which Manafort admitted but for which he did not plead guilty is breathtaking. It involves tens of millions of dollars, the highest-ranking former government officials in the Ukraine, an unnamed Obama Cabinet member and a few Russian oligarchs. The only good news for Trump in all this is that he and his Republican congressional colleagues will be spared the daily barrage of negative headlines from a second Manafort trial, which was scheduled to start this week and which would have led up to the midterm elections, had it not been aborted by the guilty plea. But the president surely fears a beast in the night in the form of whatever Manafort privately tells Mueller.

The plea agreement — all 117 pages of it — does not spell out what evidence Manafort gave Mueller to persuade him to agree to cap Manafort’s prison time exposure at 10 years when he could have gotten 60. But it does spell out Manafort’s willingness and now legal obligation to assist Mueller.

We know that Manafort’s personal offer of assistance to Mueller took place over the course of two days of negotiations on Monday and Tuesday of last week. That type of meeting, during which Manafort tipped his hand as to what evidence he could give Mueller about Trump, has been called a “Queen for a Day” by federal prosecutors and FBI agents because the defendant gets to say whatever he wants and if the negotiations fail to produce a deal the feds cannot use what the defendant has told them. The meeting obviously intrigued and excited Mueller’s team, and hence a deal was struck.

What did he tell them?

Manafort was present at the July 2016 Trump Tower meeting between campaign officials and Russian intelligence agents, and he made notes. He was present at the preparatory meeting for that Trump Tower meeting. He can probably explain the circuitous and mysterious route of Russian money transfers that followed the Trump Tower meeting. He can explain the 80 times the campaign was in contact with the Russians while he was the campaign chair, and he probably knows if Trump personally knew of the Trump Tower meeting in advance and of any agreements made there.

Stated differently, Manafort can help Mueller paint the Trump Tower meeting and whatever followed it as an agreement by the campaign to accept something of value from a foreign entity, even if the thing of value never arrived: That would be a criminal conspiracy, which my media colleagues call “collusion,” a non-legal term. Manafort can also inform Mueller of his financial deals with Trump that preceded Trump’s candidacy, at least one of which involved Russian money.

The president’s lawyers have shrugged off the Manafort guilty plea as unrelated to the president. This is false bravado for public consumption only, and I don’t blame them for it when their client is the president. But if their client has been candid with them, then they can prepare for the Manafort bombshells that are coming.

Copyright 2018 Andrew P. Napolitano. Distributed by

• Category: Ideology • Tags: Donald Trump, Russiagate 
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  1. anonymous[340] • Disclaimer says:

    I used to occasionally watch his TV bits on YouTube and think of him as an exceptional voice of truth. But Mr. Napolitano since last November has revealed himself here at The Unz Review as an Establishment tool, robed as a guardian of Constitutional and natural rights that he defends in the abstract or carefully selected applications.

    Read what he’s written about RussiaGate, etc., in the light of my and others’ critical comments and you’ll see the slippery, artful language. Another thing that will come through is his sycophancy for the priestly (legal) class of Washington.

    This week’s column is another example of Mr. Napolitano telling what he calls a “backstory,” in which his St. Mueller is fulfilling the prophecy of Senator Schumer that anyone – even an elected President – who threatens the system will be shown who’s boss. Cheerleading by fearleading.

    • Replies: @Bubba
  2. Yep, that meeting intended to get Hillary’s deleted e-mails is what’s going to take the whole thing down. If only Trump had just told the Russians that if they had those e-mails send them to Wikileaks.

  3. Actually, the tricky bit will be leaving the Israel connection out. Trump may be able to play that angle to make sure all this mysteriously dies.

  4. Mr. Napolitano speaks of “the Russians” as one would say “the Jews”. In fact, if there were meetings at all with Russians, it was a meeting with “some Russians”. There is no such entity as “the Russians”.

    As a footnote, it would always be appropriate to say “some Jews”, never “the Jews.”

  5. Realist says:

    But Mr. Napolitano since last November has revealed himself here at The Unz Review as an Establishment tool, robed as a guardian of Constitutional and natural rights that he defends in the abstract or carefully selected applications.

    I have also noted that Napolitano is a Deep State apologist/sycophant.

  6. the sooner that orange-haired con artist is out of the White House

    and in the Big House

    the better for the hardRight. Of course

    you silly cucks still think you can

    vote your way out of the Judeo-globalist deathtrap,

    and you’ll keep on trying until…

    the bitter end.

  7. Bubba says:

    Thank you for another spot-on commentary of Napalitano’s mindless nattering.

    Some “backstory.” It’s a complete B.S. deep state fantasy. Napalitano is a gossip hound who doesn’t quite tell all the facts. He’s no different that that other FoxNews brainless rumormonger and loudmouth Gasparino.

    Trump fired Manafort following a very short tenure within the Trump campaign. Manafort has decades of deep incestuous ties with wildly corrupt Democrats and permanent swamp creatures like Mueller, Hillary, Podesta, Blumenthal et al.

    And The Clinton Foundation was (and still is) one of the world’s largest slush funds. Yet Mueller with bottomless funding still can’t prove 2 years later that President Trump was jaywalking.

    The “Judge” is an egomaniacal joke.

  8. This reads like it came straight from Don Lemon. I wish someone would explain to me why, if “the Russians” wanted Trump to win so badly, they would authorize the release of intelligence designed to destroy his candidacy?

  9. Anonymous[128] • Disclaimer says:

    Poppycock. Judge Napolitano is growing more and more as a thoroughly unreliable source of information.

    Manafort got criminally convicted for lying on a bank loan application, and for tax fraud.
    Americans call it lying on a loan application. The feds call it bank fraud. Americans call it padding your expenses on your tax form. The feds call it perjury. The only thing scary is that probably 50 percent of the population could be convicted of the same thing, and the only thing that saves the rest of us is that we don’t have Manafort’s money.

    Manafort was involved in the campaign for 4 months. He has nothing to tell. He would have to lie and get re-convicted for lying to the feds.

    The only thing “breath-taking” about Manafort was the number of properties Manafort had to forfeit. The fact that the man is still standing is also quite “breathtaking.”

    The Judge in Pappadoulos case sent that poor guy to jail for “lying” to the feds. The Judge said that everyone gets probation, but he gave him a jail sentence to send Americans a message.

    Well, we got that message……….loud and clear. We go to jail when we lie, and when the Washington elite lie, they get to open up another “charitable” foundation.

    The only thing we are finding out from the media is that Washington crime pays, and when you play ball and do things like cover up the Vince Foster murder, it helps you in your career to such an extent you can be nominated for a Supreme Court Judgeship.

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