Speaking of Manafort’s Efforts to Make Bail Doing Him In

Mueller watchers are abuzz with the news that the Special Counsel filed new, sealed charges in the Paul Manafort/Rick Gates docket. The move comes in advance of Gates’ 5PM deadline to tell the court which lawyers he’s going to the prom with.

As Josh Gerstein noted, the new charges might be related to new evidence obtained relating to some bank fraud.

Last week, prosecutors told the court they’d received new evidence that Manafort took part in “a series of bank frauds and bank fraud conspiracies” in connection with a loan he sought in 2016. Mueller’s team said Manafort obtained the loan using “doctored profit and loss statements” that overstated “by millions of dollars” the income of his consulting business.

The bank fraud allegations were disclosed in a bail-related court filing made public on Friday that did not contain any indication of what action, if any, Mueller’s team planned to take over the alleged fraud.

Meanwhile, NBC reports that Mueller’s team has been focusing on loans Manafort obtained in the wake of leaving the campaign that might be that newly identified fraud; they suggest Manafort may have promised the banker who made the loans a position in the Trump White House.

Manafort received three separate loans in December 2016 and January 2017 from Federal Savings Bank for homes in New York City, Virginia and the Hamptons.

The banker, Stephen Calk, president of the Federal Savings Bank, was announced as a member of candidate Trump’s Council of Economic Advisers in August 2016.

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s team is now investigating whether there was a quid pro quo agreement between Manafort and Calk. Manafort left the Trump campaign in August 2016 after the millions he had earned working for a pro-Russian political party in Ukraine drew media scrutiny. Calk did not receive a job in President Donald Trump’s cabinet.

They point specifically to loans for which Manafort used his Hamptons and Alexandria homes — the same homes at the center of his effort to make bail — as collateral.

Manafort’s LLC, Summerbreeze, then took out a new $9.5 million loan in December using the Hamptons property and house in Alexandria, Virginia, as part of the collateral. The lender was Federal Savings Bank of Chicago, whose chief executive, Calk, was an economic adviser to the Trump campaign.

Yesterday, Manafort submitted additional paperwork on the collateral for precisely this loan.

The business attorney who handled the mortgage refinancing transaction relating to the Bridgehampton, NY property was contacted upon the conclusion of the hearing held on February 14, 2018 and asked to provide an analysis of the mortgage loan documents and the parties’ understanding at the time, of which he had first-hand knowledge. Specific attention to the additional collateral provided by the Alexandria property was requested. The attorney’s letter, with exhibits, is attached to this submission. (See Attachment A.)

Although the document speaks for itself, in general, the business attorney confirms the following: the primary collateral for the Bridgehampton loan refinancing was the real property itself, valued at [redacted], and the substantial deposit account of [redacted] established with the lending institution to be used by the bank in the event of a default on the mortgage. Importantly, the lawyer notes that “[t]he property at [redacted–his Alexandria property], is merely additional collateral with no expectation that its foreclosure would be necessary in the event of a default. These facts were discussed between myself and representatives of FSB well before the closing of the loan, and the loan documents were prepared accordingly.”

Next, the defendant wishes to advise that upon further investigation and inquiry with Mr. Manafort’s business attorney, the [redacted] on deposit with the lender was tied to the Union Street property in New York, not the Bridgehampton property. Regardless of the defendant’s intent to use these deposited funds – upon the satisfaction of certain requisite conditions – for the payment of Bridgehampton loan expenses, there is no contractual or legal obligation to do so in a hypothetical default scenario. Nevertheless, as the letter states, the appraised value of the Bridgehampton property plus the deposit account noted above totals [redacted] and would be more than sufficient to satisfy the [redacted] loan to Summerbreeze, LLC. Id.

After Manafort submitted that, the government asked for and obtained access to the sealed transcripts from that hearing.

Which is to say, the government has gotten sworn statements about the property Manafort has been trying to use to make bail, statements that, if he is found to lie on them, he’ll lose his current release conditions.

Call me crazy, but I think Manafort might finally spend his first night in jail.

Not to mention Manafort and these bankers are probably in a bigger heap of trouble.

I’m betting he’s going to get a lot closer to flipping after he spends a bit of time in jail.

70 replies
  1. Rapier says:

    Oh come on. This Calk guy actually thought a gig in Trump’s White House was desirable? Really? Color me skeptical. Well then again, playing with Manafort at that late stage wan’t a sign of intelligence.

    • Rayne says:

      Calk just got a tax cut, likely based in part on lame ass guidance from Trump’s Presidential Council of Economic Advisers. In other words, Calk was able to cut himself and all of his wealthy peeps a deferred income deal: pay income tax, get a bigger chunk back after figuring out how to shelter the returns.

      What a scam.

  2. mister bunny says:

    A lot closer to flipping. Yes, but that also means Trump will be a lot closer to pardoning him, using the Strzok nonsense as thinly veiled cover. Trump isn’t worried about Manafort because (in my reading of things) they’ve already got an agreement established. If that’s correct, then in order to get info out of Manafort, Mueller will need to offer a better deal than Trump can, or diminish Trump’s political ability to use his pardoning power.

    • Trip says:

      Manafort has exposure in NYC, too. Schneiderman will be on it. Manafort is more afraid of not being pardoned by “Black Caviar” than Trump, I think.

      Rock-Manafort-Hard Place

      • mister bunny says:

        The possibility of state charges do help mitigate the pardon side of things.

        But with the Black Caviar reference, are you saying you think Manafort may rather go to jail than rat on some Russian oligarch who would kill him? Perhaps that is the basis of Trump’s confidence Manafort won’t flip.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          I think that Manafort has more than the Russians to worry about.  He has a stable of prior clients decades in the making who might be aggrieved were Manafort to flip or be rumored to have cooperated with Bob Mueller.

          Manafort spent decades working for people who should be in the dock in the Hague.  I don’t know if Bob Mueller has the resources to insulate him against that, which means Manafort may enjoy an extended stay at Club Fed.

    • Rayne says:

      Hope bmaz gets my back on this since IANAL on Crewe Emptywheel, but a pardon doesn’t absolve one of the crime (only suspends punishment for the charged offense) and eliminates the Fifth Amendment (hello, Scooter Libby!) if the pardoned is asked to testify further about his crime.

      Most importantly, seized property may remain forfeit. Muah-hahahahah!!!

      Keep digging that hole, Manafort. Hope you didn’t use anybody else’s property in the commission of your crimes.

      • bmaz says:

        It can get complicated. The “pardon power” encompasses a couple of things, including full pardon as well as commutation. Libby got commutation. A full pardon, however, especially prospectively before any trial and/or conviction, would truly remove any 5th issues as to those charges. That is why I have argued that the fear of pardons from Trump, while real, is a much different animal than most people think. And not that easy of a panacea for Trump.

        • Rayne says:

          Libby’s commutation ensured he couldn’t rat out DeadEye Dick and his sidekick(s) — he could still plead the Fifth. If the Fifth wasn’t an issue, Bush would have pardoned him IMO. With this precedent I doubt Trump will pardon anybody who could squeal on him. Unless, of course, his lawyers were hacks who got their JDs out of a Cracker Jack box.

  3. Trip says:

    @SpaceLifeForm, Good link. Calk also gave Manafort loans of more than the value of the brownstone in Carroll Gardens, too. His wife is listed as well.

    • SpaceLifeForm says:

      Not only Kushner and Manafort underwater, suspect Calk is also.

      Aside: Your link to the MAGA servicemark.


      Still researching, but based on the dates, I have to conclude that Trump was running for president before Trump himself even knew he was running for president!

      I.E., he was ‘selected’.

      Can one convince themselves that Trump filed for the MAGA ServiceMark only 13 days after Obama won his second term?

      • Trip says:

        Trump knew he was running for president. He thought it would be a spectacular avenue for more money and development (branding as candidate); win or lose. Melania™ thought she’d make bank on her collection as well. Trump was right, he is personally benefiting from office.

          • Trip says:


            He was considering running against Obama in 2012, but then didn’t. If you look back on wherever I posted the link about the MAGA trademark, his tweets (in, I think, 2013/14) indicated that he wanted to run, or he pretended that people were pushing him to do so (he retweeted others telling him to run). He had an unofficial campaign in 2011, but quit because his polling numbers were horrible at that point:
            Donald Trump bows out of 2012 US presidential election race

            • pseudonymous in nc says:

              He had an unofficial campaign in 2011

              Including something run by Michael Cohen that was investigated by the FEC but ultimately cleared (by Don McGahn) because there wasn’t an official candidacy.

          • jayedcoins says:

            Generally, I am woefully unqualified to post here, but one thing I know a bit about are Windsor chairs. Well-known chairmaker Mike Dunbar is, I believe, one of the first to organize an event and lobby Donald Trump to run for president, and he did this back in 1987.

            No, I don’t think Dunbar is the man behind the camera during the moon landing. The point is that there’s a near 30 year trail of people from all different businesses, political avenues, and walks of life that have lobbied Donald Trump to run for major political office.

            So by the end of 2012, it’s not at all wild to think that Mr. How Can I License My Name as a Brand for Anything would have jumped at filing this, if for nothing more than the Geoffrey Fieger for [Office] approach of publicity for his business with no serious expectation of actually taking an office.

            That registration also comes on the heels of the stretch run of the campaign during which Trump was a wildly popular Obama critic in the right-wing media (both popular and fringe), and was specifically riding the attention wave afforded to him for his August tweet about Obama’s birth certificate.

            That said, the man has always had hangers-on and has clearly always had people that see angles that they can work on him, so maybe it was something he was only directly a part of in vague passing at the time, and part of his extended entourage saw a personal opportunity and pushed this thing forward.

  4. pseudonymous in nc says:

    bmaz in November:

    Mueller et. al are totally toying with them. As I have said before, from the start, there is a formal process for this, if and when the Govt wants to invoke it, called a Bail  Source Determination, often referred to as a Nebbia determination. There is not a chance in hell Manafort and Gates assets can withstand that. Instead they are just letting these fuckers flail about and seeing what comes of them backing themselves into a corner. It is really fairly amusing.

    I noticed that the burden of proof in a Nebbia hearing is on the defendant to show that bail funds are clean, but Team Mueller has decided to avoid that direct confrontation and just decided to have Manafort repeatedly empty his pockets. The FSB loans (oh, what a fun collision of abbreviations) were already flagged as fishy through public records, as was the bridging loan from Spruce Capital that was set up with Summerbreeze LLC as soon as he left the campaign.

    And the “business attorney” who structured the loan probably has a fairly squeaky bum right now. This is stuff that can be prosecuted on the state level as well as federal.

    • bmaz says:

      Yep, I really have been saying that all along. And the game is still afoot. The difference between what it means to Gates and Manafort is intriguing though.

  5. cfost says:

    Given that fudging on loan applications is fairly common, it’s obvious that Mueller is toying with Manafort. But he’s also telling us a story. This whole real estate diversion just raises a dozen more questions. I might have bought the line about Manafort providing for his daughters before Calk emerged, but not now. If Manafort was making such large sums of money, why all these loans? Why Calk? Why these particular banks? After all, mortgages can easily be obtained online. Right now, this looks an awful lot like dispensing influence in exchange for money, or maybe developing real estate contacts for future laundering. We know that Manafort is a fraud, but he is a smart one. He devises strategy and recruits pawns and stoolies, then leaves the day-to-day implementation to others. This reduces his personal liability while making it easier to throw the pawns and stoolies under the bus, with built-in deniability. If the Van der Zwaan case is any indication, Calk is not a random person. He was cultivated because he was useful.

    • Anne says:

      Manafort’s money, if he has it, is hidden offshore.  He maybe can’t, or won’t, touch it while the investigation is going on (Plot Against America, Franklin Foer, March 2018, The Atlantic).

      • pseudonymous in nc says:

        “If he has it” is the question. And I don’t think Kevin Downing is getting paid in rugs.

    • Avattoir says:

      It’s actually not all that “common” – not, at least, beyond a certain scale. I know as a fact – rather, facts (plural) – that it can result in indictment (and in one case, in conviction), depending, as one might suspect, upon the richness of the fudge & the quality of the attendant forensics.


      In an earlier thread in this serial, I mentioned Iain Banks’ penchant for & style of naming “minds”-driven spaceships in his Culture sci-fi series. Today’s latest from Vanity Fair’s Gabe Sherman reports Kushner having granted himself a grandiose title (in lieu, presumably, of a cabinet title), “primus inter pares“.

      In relation to that, Sherman writes:

      “Kushner’s vast policy portfolio…reflected his view that, as family, he and his wife…would not be constrained by traditional lines of authority. …”

      [I’ve added the emphasis.]

      In Iain Banks’ space opera novel Surface Detail, one of the main characters is a psychotic mind/spaceship named Falling Outside the Normal Moral Constraints.


      • KM says:

        Depends what is meant by “beyond a certain scale”.  It really is (was) that common with sub-prime and other “alt” mortgage vehicles, when the “fudging” is done not by applicant but by the mortgage broker or someone on the bank side.  The entire massive mortgage-securitisation machine, with its centrality to global finance, probably would not have functioned otherwise.

      • cfost says:

        Yep. “Richness of the fudge” being the key. But I wonder: if these loans were, at the very least, facilitated by this large group of confidence men who call each other friends and associates, and if Manafort had every reason to believe his loan would be approved, then why lie? Is he that fast and loose with truth and facts, and is this evidence of it?
        Kushner reminds me of.a garden variety alcoholic in rehab. “But you don’t understand! That doesn’t apply to me because I’m different.” In the recovery world that condition is called Terminal Uniqueness.
        Two things on the Vanity Fair article. First, interesting that McMaster would appeal to intelligence officials for backup. Second, interesting that Kushner would appeal to Murdoch. Murdoch’s name has been conspicuously absent in the Russia fiasco, which tells me he has people covering. Murdoch would associate himself with Satan if it meant more money.

        • Rayne says:

          Murdoch+NewsCorp must be involved somehow. We haven’t begun to pick apart the link between the content Russian bots pushed and the parallel content at Fox News. Why did Fox’s coverage sync so tightly with disinfo/misinfo propagation online?

          Of course the First Amendment will be thrown up as a firewall — and there is at least one other leg of the Trump-Russia investigation similarly firewalled by the First Amendment.

          • Dev Null says:

            Don’t laugh, but Schindler claims to have heard from his ex-buds at NSA that a counter-intelligence case has been opened against Sean Hannity.

            (Please don’t shoot the messenger …)

            Also, too: “all animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”

        • harpie says:

          I was just yesterday remembering for some reason that [I think] it was reported that Murdoch and his wife had a hand in convincing Ivanka and Jared not to discontinue their engagement at some point—they all went on a cruise on the Murdoch yacht. [I’ll try to find]

  6. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Manafort is in a different league.  His loans for just these few houses would finance a lot of small businesses.  Bank fraud involving such loans is a bigger deal.  It creates evidence that may lead to a pattern of criminal conduct that constitutes a bigger crime.  It may also undercut Manafort’s credibility.  If Mueller can prove Manafort lied about A, and did it a lot, it could be less likely to believe him about B, which might be critical to his defense.

    Yes, Mueller is using peripheral crimes – about which he has sufficient evidence to convict – to pressure Manafort to flip.  It may look like prosecuting Capone for tax fraud instead of murder and racketeering.  It is a legitimate way to find out whether Manafort knows facts about yet bigger crimes committed by others.  And as Alex van der Zwaan now understands, little crimes can cost a lot more than you ever dreamed they could.

  7. orionATL says:

    from ew’s post:

    “… The banker, Stephen Calk, president of the Federal Savings Bank, was announced as a member of candidate Trump’s Council of Economic Advisers in August 2016….”

    miss wiki lists council members:

    “… As of August 2016, Trump’s economic advisors included:

    Tom Barrack, CEO of Colony Capital, inauguration chair, former Treasury contender, major donor[11]
    Andy Beal, banker, billionaire, professional poker player, major donor[11]
    Stephen Calk, CEO of the Federal Savings Bank, officer and helicopter pilot in the U.S. Army[12]
    Dan DiMicco, former CEO of Nucor, Commerce/CEA/USTR contender
    Steve Feinberg, CEO of Cerberus Capital, major donor[11]
    Harold Hamm, oil and gas industry, billionaire, former Energy/Interior contender
    Diane Hendricks, chair of ABC Supply, billionaire, originally backed Walker’16
    Darlene Jordan, former assistant attorney general of Massachusetts[13]
    Dan Kowalski, former deputy staff director for the Senate Budget Committee 2009-2015 andHouse Budget Committee staffer 1998-2007,[14] co-lead of the Trump’16 economic advisers team, Trump’16 deputy director of policy, on the Trump OMB transition team[15]
    Howard Lorber, CEO of Vector Group, major donor[11]
    David Malpass, Fed/OMB/USTR contenderTed Malloch Global Sherpa
    Betsy McCaughey, former Lieutenant Governor of New York, divorced spouse of Wilbur Ross
    Stephen Miller, Trump’16 director of policy, Sr.Advisor-appointee
    Steven Mnuchin, founder of hedge fund Dune Capital Management, former Goldman Sachsemployee, Trump’16 finance chair, major donor,[11] Treasury-designate
    Stephen Moore, founding president of the Club for Growth, CEA contender
    Peter Navarro, business school professor at UC-Irvine, CEA contender
    John Paulson, CEO of investment firm Paulson & Co.Brooke Rollins, CEO of Texas Public Policy Foundation,[16] former deputy general counsel under Governor Rick Perry
    Wilbur Ross, billionaire investor, Commerce-designate
    Steve Roth, chair of Vornado Realty Trust (although on the list of advisers in August 2016, Roth said in September 2016 he was no longer spending any time on the effort[9])
    Carla Sands, philanthropist and chair of Vintage Capital[17]
    Anthony Scaramucci, founder of SkyBridge Capital, former Goldman Sachs employee
    Judy Shelton, Fed Vice-Chair contender, possible future Fed Chair contender,[18] former advisor to Carson’16, director of the Sound Money Project[19] at the Atlas Network, economist[20] with aPh.D in business administration from University of Utah,[21] noted for her 1989 book The Coming Soviet Crash.[19]
    Liz Uihlein, president of UlineKathleen Hartnett-White, former EPA/Interior contender,[16] a director at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, former head of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality

    Several of the advisors were major donors to Trump’s presidential campaign.[22]… ”

    only navarro had a ph. d. in economics. lots of famous names.

    from memory, one member of trump’s cea (from st. louis?) made a loan to gates early on in the game.

    • orionATL says:

      it’s all came back to me, once i read “helicopter pilot”. it was calk who made the loans, to manafort not gates, in chicago not st. louis :)


      “… In July, a Manafort spokesman described the Federal Savings lending as “an arm’s-length transaction and sufficiently overcollateralized” and at an above-market 7.25 interest rate.

      According to Bloomberg News, the first loan from Calk’s bank to Manafort came in December 2016, when a limited liability company connected to Manafort obtained a $9.5 million loan. A month later, the bank provided two more loans, totaling $6.5 million, to Manafort and his wife. The loans represented about 23.5 percent of the institution’s total capital. “For a larger, more regional bank, you would not find concentration like that to one borrower, or one industry,” Terry McEvoy, a bank analyst at Stephens Inc., told Bloomberg…”

      • Rayne says:

        I had been more than a little curious if Calk and Federal Savings were familiar with Dmitry Firtash, about whom European authorities are dragging their feet. So I went poking around…

        And then this piece from August last year popped up. Holy Toledo. It’s like a road map, a Rosetta stone. It even drags out Fred Trump’s carcass.

        Includes a Chinese investment angle, too. Are we actually going to let a Chinese company purchase construction companies so they can land building contracts with the U.S. military for sites here in the U.S.? What?!

        This bit about a real estate loan, though:

        In 2012, Paul Manafort bought a charming brownstone in Carroll Gardens for his daughter, Jessica. That property, at 377 Union Street, has since become the subject of both state and federal investigations.

        At question: a series of mortgages made by the Chicago-based Federal Savings Bank, which is headed by Trump campaign adviser Steve Calk. The loans on 377 Union and two other Manafort-owned properties in the Hamptons and Virginia total $16 million – nearly a quarter of the bank’s total equity capital. Experts told WNYC earlier this year that the loan transactions resembled money laundering. Neighbors have complained that the vacant home is a dilapidated mess. …

        “Charming.” LMAO There’s a photo at the bottom of the article of that property. Check it out. Gonna’ need a bigger, better brownstone, Manafort.

        • orionATL says:

          nah. manifort’s destiny :) is to spend time in the big greystone granite house. one with the teeny, tiny windows in a charmIng rural setting up the river a bit.

          by the way, for those who know how to search emptywheel internally,

          the commenter space life form was all over this problem many months, maybe a year or more ago. i followed his lead. very prescient. check it out.

        • orionATL says:

          all four guys wrapped up in one sentence:

          “… Less widely publicized – but well known to Manafort and the FBI at the time of Manafort’s resignation — was the fact that Manafort, Rick Gates (the Deputy Chair of the Trump Campaign) and Brad Zackson , a former manager in the Trump Organization, had been using various U.S. and offshore bank accounts to launder money for a pro-Russian Ukrainian oligarch by the name of Dimitri Firtash. Mr. Firtash was ultimately indicted by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Illinois (Chicago), although efforts to extradite Firtash from Vienna, Austria proved to be unsuccessful.
          I am very familiar with these investigations since much of the evidence relating to these money laundering activities was obtained by my law firm as part of a civil RICO investigation, and then provided to the FBI…”



          “… Snizek listed 23 other companies that he identified as either closely related to, different iterations of, or parties to CMZ’s real estate investment activities.

          ‘With no defining reference points to distinguish new corporations, it appears that the corporations were formed by the members, for the sole purpose of serving as pass thru conduit or as shell corporations to avoid responsibilities encountered through conducting business,’ he wrote.

          Snizek identified one of those “shell corporations” as ZMC Partners LP, which, like CMZ, took its name from the initials of its three principals: Manafort, former Trump Organization employee Brad Zackson, and New York real estate investor Arthur Cohen.

          According to a partnership agreement referenced in Snizek’s complaint, ZMC Partners was a joint venture between Manafort’s ZMC Investors LP and Group DF, Firtash’s holding company.


          • Rayne says:

            I think the profile in therealdeal .com provides a nice overview of an NYC perspective. Hello, Schneiderman…I’m sure he has all kinds of goodies related to money laundering, but a readily-digestible narrative for public consumption could start with real estate. Curb appeal, you know.

            WRT that “Free Bacon” piece you’ve linked: hold that thought. I’ve had something sitting on the back burner for a while now, sizzling.

            • SpaceLifeForm says:

              Add some sauce.

              The Manafort loans.
              (interesting french connection also)

              Manafort is so underwater that he may be dragging Thomas Barrack down. And you can follow dots from there to potus.

              Bet Colony Northstar is under Special Counsel spotlight, especially in light of Paradise Papers.

              The link below docs a lot of loan machinations. A *LOT*. As in fraud.

              Borrowing money on bad money.
              And others throwing good money after bad.

              Recommend a good stiff cocktail while reading. It goes from 1981 to August 2017.


              • pseudonymous in nc says:

                Josh Marshall noted that Barrack’s Colony Capital was named as an investor in the Old Post Office refurb, then withdrew once the deal was struck, and Deutsche Bank stepped in.

      • Rayne says:

        If  this bank, The Federal Savings Bank located in Chicago IL is the same bank, there’s a disconnect here. Like the bank equity shown here and its five-star rating compared to the loan to Manafort.

        Something doesn’t jibe, though folks here at emptywheel already concur on this wrt Manafort.

        • orionATL says:

          who are listed as bank’s officers?

          is calk listed? or was he previously listed as an officer, but left?

          has there been a relatively recent large quantity of (large) deposits?

            • orionATL says:

              federal savings bank of chicago

              from nbc news, cited at end of quenta jurasic article in lawfare, itself cited by ew:

              “… Manafort’s LLC, Summerbreeze, then took out a new $9.5 million loan in December using the Hamptons property and house in Alexandria, Virginia, as part of the collateral. The lender was Federal Savings Bank of Chicago, whose chief executive, Calk, was an economic adviser to the Trump campaign…. “

  8. cfost says:

    These help connect some dots:

    Mueller asking if Manafort promised banker White House job in return for loans – NBC News

    Behind Manafort’s Loans, a Chopper Pilot Who Flew Into Trump’s Orbit – Bloomberg

    Lorber leads to LeBow leads to Kasowitz. Cigarettes and real estate. Ukraine again. A 7-figure “ investment” in Calk’s bank. Calk says he met Trump years ago. Fine. Haven’t looked at this motley crew in depth yet, but my question remains: why Calk? Who or what is he to them?

  9. SC says:

    I’ve been trying to think through the pros and cons of Manafort pleading guilty and telling some version of the truth about his work with Trump and as far as I can tell, the cons far outweigh the pros.

    Manafort is not going to get a pardon if he talks and while a pardon will not solve all of his legal problems, a pardon, I’d guess, will significantly reduce his legal costs and somewhat reduce the likelihood of him dying in prison. Yes, even with a pardon, he might face serious NYT charges but he’d have more resources to fight the state charges and, assuming Trump stays in office in part because Manafort keeps his mouth shut, he will continue to have White House/Trump support. If Manafort pleads guilty, he’s still going to have legal problems, arguably more legal problems if the crimes he reveals are serious, even with a generous plea bargain. Also, if Manafort pleads guilty and talks, a number of rich and powerful people with at least some history of killing people who cross them will be very upset with him. Manafort’s entire career has focused on helping some of the most awful people in the world so I’d discount him pleading guilty and telling the truth for altruistic reasons.

    What am I missing? Why would Manafort turn? What’s in it for him? Can Mueller somehow make all of  the Federal _and_ NYS legal threat go away? Can Mueller offer protection? Can Manafort somehow avoid going broke if he tells the truth?

    • Avattoir says:

      Does your calculus include that a state attorney-general also can indict and prosecute for conspiracy to defraud the peeps?

      Say, the A.G. for NY state?

      • SC says:

        Sorry about that typo, “NYT” should have been “NYS”. Doh.

        Yes, I get that a pardon will not solve Manafort’s problems. However, a pardon should make the current Federal indictments go away, at least for a while. (No doubt, a Trump pardon will be challenged on the grounds that Trump is trying to avoid investigation/prosecution himself but it will take a while for those issues to be sorted out.) Also, Manafort will presumably avoid confessing to crimes more serious than he is currently charged.

        Yes, no doubt, if he gets a pardon, Manafort will be charged by NYS for various crimes. However, if he doesn’t turn, he’ll still have wealthy, powerful friends and can fight those charges in various ways. If he pleads, he’s broke and his only friend is Mueller. He’s still going to face various legal battles, broke, and he will no one to run interference.

        Manafort’s long career is a study in greed and selfishness . . . so he’s not keeping his mouth shut to be a nice guy. He clearly feels strongly that his life will be better if he doesn’t talk. And yet, there seems to be some expectation that Manafort will flip. Why? What could Mueller offer that’s better for Manafort than keeping his mouth shut? It’s unclear to me if Mueller can wave a magic wand over Manafort and make his legal problems go away, and give him his ill-earned money back, but sadly it seems that’s what it would take for Manafort to flip.

    • mac says:

      By accepting a pardon, wouldn’t Manafort be unable to then plead the fifth?

      So if Trump pardons Manafort, Mueller or Senate could then just subpoena his testimony against Trump. Seems like a Catch 22 for Trump unless I’m missing something.

    • Avattoir says:

      Gets one to wondering why Manafort would even feel the need to have Thomas Barrack broker an intro to the Trump campaign, when Manafort’s next door neighbor in the Hamptons, as well as several times a business collaborator, each for well over a decade preceding 2016, Zackson, had an even longer relationship with the Trump organization, going back to when Trump’s dad Fred was still in charge.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Yep.  And contrary to the MSM comment from a “lawyer”, a pardon does not wipe the slate clean.  It wipes away any federal criminal punishment for it.  The crime and admission of guilt remain on the record.

  10. Rugger9 says:

    Like Arpaio has done already, I’m sure the future recipients will claim their innocence, but if Joe can’t get anywhere with that argument in AZ, good luck in NY.

  11. Desider says:

    [layman guess] another issue is that Manafort was tapped much of this time, and while I’d guess originally using this info on unrelated cases might be a challenge, with the aggregation of charges for various illegal activity, contesting it as a stretch no longer is tenable. To what extent these recordings can be shared at state level also can affect any NY and FL charges against Trump, Kushner, Giuliani, et al.

  12. Bay State Librul says:

    Who the fuck is Sam the Man Nunberg?


    Former Donald Trump political adviser Sam Nunberg will be interviewed by the special counsel investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 election on Thursday, a person familiar with the matter said.

    Nunberg will meet with a member of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team in Washington, said the person, who spoke on condition of anonymity. It’s not clear what Mueller wants to speak with him about. Mueller’s office has informed him that he’s not a target of the probe and won’t be prosecuted unless he’s found to have lied to investigators, the person said.

    Nunberg was on Trump’s payroll from mid-2011 to August 2015. A possible line of questioning could regard Trump’s activities in Moscow during the 2013 Miss Universe pageant that the president once owned.


    Nunberg was fired from Trump’s campaign in August 2015 after Business Insider published a story about his racially-charged Facebook posts. In July 2016, Trump sued him for violating a confidentiality agreement. The suit was dropped the following month.

    Author Michael Wolff repeatedly quoted Nunberg in “Fire and Fury,” his portrait of the early months of the Trump administration that was published in January. He said the former adviser was “generally regarded as the man who understood Trump’s whims and impulses best” and an associate of Trump’s former strategist, Steve Bannon. Mueller’s team interviewed Bannon earlier this month.

    • Trip says:

      That explains the new charges, thanks. I wonder if he is back with the old representation who had the conniption.

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