Is Manafort Getting Close to Crying “Uncle”?

Even before this hilarious Zoe Tillman report on a hearing in Paul Manafort’s civil suit against Robert Mueller, I was going to point to the things Manafort has learned that we haven’t. But the report that Manafort’s lawyers are trying to “Stop Bobby Three Sticks, before he indicts again!!!” makes the details all the more interesting.

In the hearing, Manafort’s lawyers tried to rescue their desperate lawsuit arguing Mueller’s appointment is improper by arguing they’re only trying to prevent prospective actions with this lawsuit — that is, they’re trying to prevent Mueller from larding on more charges.

During arguments Wednesday about whether Manafort’s lawsuit challenging special counsel Robert Mueller’s appointment could go forward, Manafort’s lawyer said the case wasn’t about getting the existing indictments tossed out — it was about stopping future prosecutions against Manafort by the special counsel’s office.

Pressed by the judge about how Manafort could sue now if he was trying to stop activity by the special counsel’s office that hadn’t happened yet, Manafort’s lead attorney Kevin Downing argued that the harm to Manafort was ongoing because the special counsel’s investigation and the grand jury were still active.

Without an order from the court stopping Mueller’s office from pursuing other charges in the future — based on an appointment order that Downing contends was unlawful — Manafort would have to “sit and wait” and keep chasing the special counsel’s office wherever they decided to prosecute him next in order to challenge Mueller’s appointment, Downing said. He didn’t specify what other types of charges he thought the special counsel might be investigating against Manafort.

Manafort’s civil lawsuit against the Justice Department and the special counsel’s office, filed in January in the US District Court for the District of Columbia, asked the court to not only declare Mueller’s original appointment in May invalid, but also to set “aside all actions taken against Mr. Manafort pursuant to the Appointment Order.”

But Downing has since walked that back, saying that they’re only asking for a forward-looking order that blocks future action.

As I noted, there are several apparently unrelated things that Mueller’s team may have shown Manafort that they haven’t shown us.

First, back on March 1, Mueller’s team moved to unseal transcripts of some sidebar conferences from the status conferences on January 16 and February 14, as well as an ex parte discussion they had with the judge on February 14 (as well as discussions about why Manafort couldn’t yet, and still can’t, make bail from February 14).

The United States of America, by and through Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller, III, respectfully moves to unseal the sealed portion of the transcripts of sidebar/bench conferences that occurred during the status conferences held in this matter on January 16, 2018, and February 14, 2018. The transcripts of these bench conferences were sealed at the government’s request. At the time, the government indicated that the cause for sealing was likely to be mooted in the near future and that the government had no objection to making the transcript available to the public once that happened. The government respectfully submits that unsealing is now appropriate. The government also submits that the transcript of an ex parte sidebar discussion between the government and the Court, conducted at the February 14, 2018, status conference should also be unsealed and made available to the public, the cause for sealing having been mooted. [my emphasis]

The cause for sealing that would soon be mooted might either be the larding on of new charges against Manafort related to his more recent money laundering between 2015 and 2017 (which took place on February 22), or Rick Gates’ anticipated plea (which took place on February 23).

On March 7, Gates’ team asked for more time to object to the unsealing, until five days after they got the transcripts, based on the fact that Tom Green had just joined the case and wasn’t present at those hearings. On March 9, Manafort’s team asked for the same five days after they got the transcripts. Judge Amy Berman Jackson granted both those requests. Since then, there’s been no further developments on this unsealing reflected in the unsealed docket, though there are skips in the numbering (230 and 231, and 238). While it’s possible those transcripts aren’t ready yet, the original version of the January 16 transcript was ready in 7 days (there’s no notice for the February 14 transcripts, though two hearings since that one have been docketed).

So it’s quite possible Manafort now has the transcript of that ex parte sidebar from February 14, but has decided he doesn’t want us to see it.

Then there’s the minute notice from yesterday granting the government’s request to seal an exhibit from its Monday filing.

Berman Jackson’s approval notes that the government has already released a redacted version of the exhibit, meaning the exhibit in question must be the Rod Rosenstein memo. I suggested yesterday that the government was effectively providing Manafort a less redacted copy showing what else it was investigating Manafort for, which might well pertain to Oleg Deripaska, given that Mueller dropped an otherwise superfluous reference to Deripaska in Monday’s motion.

But who knows? There are definitely possible investigative prongs that might be even more damaging for Manafort than just his well-known relationship with Deripaska.

Whatever it is, Manafort’s team went from reading that memo to making a desperate bid to prevent Mueller from bringing any more indictments against Manafort.

That bid — as well as the bid to throw out the indictments — appears to be doomed. Based on Tillman’s report, Berman Jackson seems to have already read Monday’s filing, given that the doubts she raised in today’s hearing all were all laid out in that.

US District Judge Amy Berman Jackson — who is also handling Manafort’s criminal case in DC — expressed significant doubts on Wednesday about whether Manafort could pursue a civil lawsuit. She questioned whether there was a clear limit on how broad a special counsel’s authority could be from the get-go; how Manafort had standing to sue over a possible future prosecution that hadn’t yet happened; and why he should be able to bring a civil lawsuit when he could make the same arguments in the criminal cases, where he clearly had the right to challenge the indictments.

The judge noted that the Justice Department regulations Manafort cited explicitly said that they did not create rights that could be enforced in a civil lawsuit.

That she’s raising objections from that motion suggests she finds them (unsurprisingly) persuasive.

Which means, absent some action from Trump or Rosenstein, Manafort will have to just sit there trying to negotiate bail and waiting for new charges until such time as he screams “uncle.”

97 replies
  1. tinao says:

    Ahhgh Marcy, I just got finished reading and rereading your last intriguing post and all comments. Damn woman your hard to keep up with try as I may! :) I guess its back to it.

  2. Frank Probst says:

    ?”unpersuasive” instead of “persuasive” in the second to last paragraph? Or am I reading it wrong?

    I’m waiting for Amy Berman Jackson to just snap at some point and look at Paul Manafort and say, “Seriously? You’re actually paying them for this?” They certainly are racking up billable hours, but the fact that he’s STILL under house arrest pretty much says it all. He obviously doesn’t have enough clean assets to make bail, and she’s pretty much just handed the whole thing over to the prosecutors and told him to negotiate with them. I think Manafort’s concern about additional indictments mostly has to do with the fact that they’ll keep him under house arrest.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Given Manafort’s age and the scope of charges, he could spend the rest of his life in prison.  The additional indictments are a threat, a distraction and one more encouragement to deal.  Coming from Mueller, Manafort’s team should take them seriously.  I don’t think he bluffs or blinks.  The Mueller hydra has many heads, whacking one seems not to affect the others.  I imagine that exhausts even a top legal team.  Manafort has a decent team.  Would his wife?

      • bmaz says:

        Well, and Kathleen would have to have a different set of lawyers, because of inherent conflict. It would be a problem. Which is exactly why I have been pointing this out since the original Manafort indictment announcement.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Among the questions I see are does she know enough to make an empathy-challenged Manafort care enough about her to flip?  Does she know enough to make trouble for those Manafort’s silence is protecting?  Possibly two sides of the same coin.

          Would that encourage a few sugar daddies to fund (and attempt to control) her defense – without which she might deal in a heartbeat – or to take more direct action?  If Kathleen is in play for Mueller, her two daughters are in play for some of those who might wish for Manafort’s and her silence.

          • bmaz says:

            They filed joint tax returns by my understanding, so she may not have much choice. If that is wrong for any reason, currently unknown, then the calculation changes, of course. The daughters are already a little hostile, which is part of why I have been noting this leverage for a long time now.

  3. Frank Probst says:

    Side question to bmaz:

    You mentioned in the previous post that Mueller could go after Manafort’s wife.  I honestly know nothing about her.  How strong is the evidence that she knew about or was involved in her husband’s activities?

    • bmaz says:

      By my understanding of the years long money laundering and tax fraud issues, it is pretty clean cut.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        At least one of their daughters, a lawyer in Manhattan, felt sure that dad’s money was dirty.

      • Trip says:

        The only problem with that, is that the daughter characterized her mother as a captive, “Dad won’t let her go”, while Manafort was cheating and paying a lot of money for his mistress entertainment and her keep. He might not even give a crap if something happens to the wife. She might have simply been a possession. If she flipped, how much worse could it get for him?  I think Manafort is holding out for a pardon. It’s his only hope.

        • mark says:

          But, he is too dirty to get that pardon, it would be political suicide to pardon the main bad guy connection in the russia gate scandal.  Even the corrupt GOP in congress who themselves are facing bribery rumored investigations could not possibly countenance a Manafort pardon.  It would be the end of Trumpsky, and it also still leaves state charges and Attica rather than Leavenworth.

          • Trip says:

            @Mark, the controversial pardons are typically the ones made right before a president steps out the door, at the end of a term.

          • Peterr says:

            Even the corrupt GOP in congress who themselves are facing bribery rumored investigations could not possibly countenance a Manafort pardon.

            I read and hear phrases like this, and after 2 years of seeing/hearing them over a whole manner of things that could not possibly be countenanced, I cannot help but think of Vizzini and Inigo Montoya.

            V: “Inconceivable!”

            I: “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”


            • jayedcoins says:

              I’m sympathetic to the political argument that would make some of these hypothetical pardons difficult… but I think you’re largely right. It hasn’t been that long since Trump pardoned Arpaio, which was really the definition of impunity, given how clear cut the case against Arpaio was. If you’ll pardon Arpaio, it’s really hard to think you wouldn’t pardon just about anyone.

  4. earlofhuntingdon says:

    You have to have a tongue to say “uncle.”

    I hope Manafort’s susceptible to the pressure and flips.  He’s a bad guy who should no longer be rewarded with millions.  His resources should be withdrawn from the types of people who use him.  He probably knows a lot about other crimes committed in and about America that badly need prosecuting.  And those who want to be just like him need to be given something to think about.

    • jayedcoins says:

      Amen — this is why, if nothing else comes of the SCO investigation beyond Manafort getting taken to the cleaners, I’ll count it a victory. Guys like him are one of the biggest problems with our political system. They are so much more problematic for a healthy society than most of the things we dole out punishment for.

  5. tinao says:

    Would a special counsel’s authority include extradition of the two in jail in Thailand who may have evidence on deripaska/manafort?

    • mark says:

      Those two are being held by Thai officials on petty crimes and passport/immigration issues, I am not aware that they are facing any serious penalties.  And for us to extradite we would have to issue indictments, or warrants for their arrest.  I think they are desperate to stay out of the clutches of Putin and the oligarchs, basically hiding in a Thai jail until they can use their “evidence” to get rescued, but not from the Thai government, from the russians and nerve agents and other possible “accidents.”

      I should think if Mr. Mueller needed anything they have to offer they would be here by now.  But, probably their offering is unneeded, just more of what they already have.  Possibly we have far more powerful means of intel than the russians believed possible.

      • bmaz says:

        So, you are saying that there is no possibility that a material witness arrest warrant could not suffice for an agreeable transfer of international custody? Honest question, I have never seen this played out, and don’t know. Maybe you are quite right, but I’d be a little less sure. Agreeable countries, like Art Linklater’s kids, do the darnedest things!

        • brumel says:

          The Extradition Treaty is strictly limited to people prosecuted for serious offenses (punishable by more than one year imprisonment). It does not apply to witnesses. Moreover, the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty explicitly states (in art. 12) that a witness who is held in custody in one country may be transported to the other country only with his/her consent, which directly prohibits the forcible extradition of witnesses. However, Mueller could request (under art. 8) to interview the witnesses in Thailand, to which Thailand would presumably have to agree.

          • earlofhuntingdon says:

            Short of overtly embarrassing the Thai military or king, the US ordinarily has available enough pressure points to get what it wants.  In this instance, it appears the witnesses might well agree to a transfer.  The Thais might see benefit in moving them, after a reasonable amount of time so as to punish them and not to seem too vulnerable to American demands.  A faster route, as you suggest, would probably be for Mueller to send a team there for agreed interviews.

            • bmaz says:

              Yeah, that’s the thing. The niceties can be overlooked between willing partners. Take for instance the case of Viktor Bout. It was not really kosher under all the pertinent guidelines, but he magically got sent from Thailand to the US. And here he still is. Things happen. And the Russians are still unhappy about that. Granted that was for a “serious offense”, though one of extremely dubious US jurisdiction.

    • Peterr says:

      More appropriate for Mueller than extradition would be an offer of political asylum. Of course, that would have to go through the State Department, and I’m rather sure that Deputy Secretary of State (and currently acting SoS) Sullivan would be leery of granting such a request, as would Mike Pompeo, should he be confirmed by the time such a request reached the 7th floor.

      • Trip says:

        Here’s an update on their status, which I posted the other day:

        ‘Nastya Rybka’ could be coming home from Thailand

        Anastasia Vashukevich and Alexander Kirillov, the Belarusian “sex trainers” better known as “Nastya Rybka” and “Alex Leslie,” have reportedly agreed to plead guilty to disrespecting the culture and religion of Thailand, the penalty for which is deportation and banishment from the country for at least 10 years.

        https://meduza .io /en/news/2018/04/03/nastya-rybka-could-be-coming-home-from-thailand **
        From Thai Jail, Sex Coaches Say They Want to Trade U.S.-Russia Secrets for Safety
        They have influential enemies in Russia. They were arrested with the help of a “foreign spy,” according to the Thai police, and locked up on what is a fairly minor offense: working without a permit. And the F.B.I. tried to talk to the pair, suggesting that American investigators had not dismissed their account out of hand.
        “They know we have more information,” one of the pair, Alexander Kirillov, 38, told The New York Times last month in an unauthorized phone call from the detention center, in Bangkok. Mr. Kirillov said his co-defendant, Anastasia Vashukevich, 27, had angered some powerful people. “They know she knows a lot,” he said. “And that’s why they made this case against us.”

        Apparently the jail has had issues with those seeking to interview them. Thus far, it appears that there has been no real conversation, and no one knows what legitimate info they might actually have. But it may be a moot point since they apparently made a plea and will likely be deported back to Russia.

        ** [Readers should use extra caution when opening Meduza links. / ~Rayne]

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Given the importance of sex tourism to the Thai economy, in general, and the military’s revenue, in particular, not to mention its utility in money laundering and blackmail, I suspect these two were arrested as a warning to foreign competitors more than to protect the Thai culture and religion.

          The warning having been given to the sponsors and backers of these two women, they will be quietly allowed to leave, but not permitted to return for some time.  Not to worry.  Russia and its former satellites reportedly have an abundance of such resources, and where they are lacking, are skilled in trading for more.

          If they return home, they are likely to be less available to Mr. Mueller than when they were in Thailand.

          • Trip says:

            If they return home, they are likely to be less available to Mr. Mueller than when they were in Thailand.

            Of course, and isn’t that the point of this quick plea turnover? That, and to return them to the Kremlin/Russia for punishment for the embarrassing of (or possibly outing interference in US gov’t of) a rich and Putin-connected oligarch.

            • earlofhuntingdon says:

              Yes, if they are in jeopardy, it would not be for being arrested, but for not staying mum.  Analogies to Paul Manafort entirely applicable.

  6. Trip says:

    CNN reporting that Mueller was stopping and questioning Russian oligarchs on private jets at US airports about any money funneled to Trump campaign. And one, not in the US, is ‘cooperating’ by submitting documents (Deripaska? He offered to testify, but was turned down in the past). How effective is questioning people like this, who likely would want to hide their own involvement?

    • Trip says:

      ‘There are no Oligarchs in Russia,’ Kremlin Claims Amid Reports of New U.S. Sanctions

      The Kremlin has said that Russia has no oligarchs, following reports that the U.S. is preparing to enact a new wave of sanctions against Russian tycoons.
      Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich said in January that 1990’s-era oligarchs were replaced by “responsible” businessmen as Russia was bracing for the U.S. to release its so-called “Kremlin List” of 210 names linked to President Vladimir Putin’s government…The “Kremlin List” was widely criticized both by both supporters and critics of the Russian government for being a carbon-copy of Forbes magazine’s list of richest Russians and the Kremlin’s own online list of officials.

      When logic and proportion
      Have fallen sloppy dead
      And the White Knight is talking backwards
      And the Red Queen’s off with her head…

  7. Avattoir says:

    Going back several posts, the emptywheel take on this Manafort motion was, it aimed (primarily or at least not at all incidentally) at forcing out from the OSC as much as possible of the OSC’s current plans for the future.

    To some extent &/or in some senses, that aim succeeded – tho, I would think in ways Teams Manafort and Trump would not reasonably have anticipated.
    AOT, the current plan is to:
    1. break out the OSC’s mandate into segments or stages;
    2. provide Rosenstein a report close to Congress’ summer break;
    3. write that report with the public interest paramount in mind; and
    4. aim that report at the actions & words of SPOTUS.

    OTOH, to the extent the dark forces hoped to force out, say, a more detailed sketch of ConFraudUS, the motion failed.

    I’ve been in something like Downing’s position a number of times. All were cases with multiple defendants, who shared in common a rational desire to exploit whatever opportunity might exist to launch this or that generalized challenge to the investigation or the prosecution or both.

    Some were conspiracies. Some involved quite a large array of indicted defendants, either in the same trial or roughly concurrent trials. Many held the the prospect of cutthroat coming into play – that is, one or more defendants turning on the others, by flipping or in their own cases in defense.

    In those, almost invariably the issue would arise as to who, including whose attorney, ought to take the lead in arguing these sorts of motions.
    It might be assumed the role would fall mostly to more expendables: junior attorneys, those with lesser reps and/or ambitions. IDK if that might be the trend more generally, but I doubt it, because that actually NEVER happened in any challenge of this sort in a trial in which I was involved.

    Instead, AFA my experience informs me, the carriage of this sort of motion falls most often to the lead attorney acting for the most exposed defendant, or, if this factor isn’t very germane, to the Big Cheese among the defending attorneys – or to one of the Grand Fromages, should several be present.

    Qualification as “the” Big C is, in such self-elevated company, often not clearly ceded; but, in my experience, the big runny stinky cuts of Brie, Camembert, Danish blue & Roquefort always work this out among themselves.
    IAE, after being around a while, I found myself conceded as among the stinkies. The etiquette is for at least one of these is to offer up for this hazardous duty; I’ve done it often enough that the task actually fell to me more than once.

    All the trial counsel, both sides, not excluding – assuming she was a trial counsel before or has been on the bench long enough – the judge, knows what’s going on with these motions, their function, their purpose, & the arguing of them. There has to be a tone of desperation tinged with dignity or vice versa. The implication must be left that it’s being argued for some other audience, the usual suspects being the defendants, the potential jury pool, and whoever may show up on the appeal panel.

    In this case, IMO we can safely add to the audience list each of Congress, Fox News, the GOP, and SPOTUS. Berman being an Obama nominee & smart (typically an oxymoron), this motion & the defendant’s arguments in support were not aimed at her.

    • Dev Null says:

      @Avattoir: “Berman being an Obama nominee & smart (typically an oxymoron)”

      Perhaps you meant something other than “oxymoron”?

      “I do not think [that word] means what you think it means.”

      Unless, of course, you think Berman is stupid; but if I’m reading the rest of your note correctly you don’t mean to be saying that Berman is stupid.

  8. Avattoir says:

    to bmaz – True enough, but at least one of the courts above have Republican nominees on them.

    Not being “conservative” in mindset, I can’t claim with any confidence to fully grok into Downing’s argument; but to me, it’s tres Fox News (consistent with if not line-by-line identical to what’s reportedly being pushed out by Murdoch’s minions), to the effect that arguments Team R might have made about the Special Prosecutor law, had Clinton been one of theirs, are being re-purposed into this pathos-ridden challenge to the Special Prosecutor regulation.

    IOW, yeah, it’s dumb, but dumb in such an overtly partisan way, that it falls into the same general category of dumb as the equal treatment argument made to SCOTUS on behalf of GWB in Bush v. Gore 2000.

    • TGuerrant says:

      “Put another way, if UK intelligence is responsible for manufacturing the Trump-Russia allegations, it suggests that the UK’s efforts formed an international arm running concurrently with domestic US ‘Deep State’ efforts to sabotage Trump’s presidential campaign and/or oust him once he had been elected.”

      One of the sources Elizabeth Vos cites to support her interpretation of events is Julian Assange.

      Other articles listed as “recently added” to this site include “OP-ED: If Ecuador Withdraws Support And Protection From Julian Assange, It Will Be A Tragedy,” “Silencing of Assange Sparks Historic Ten-Hour Online Vigil To #ReconnectJulian,” and “As Assange Remains Isolated, Real-Time Heroes Stand in Solidarity Outside Embassy.”

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Such machinations are beyond the ability of the present “deep state” in the UK, no matter the hypothetical fevered dreams of a few lords, bureaucrats, CEOs and press barons.

        This government cannot manage a health service.  It cannot see beyond its self-inflicted wound of Brexit.  Nor could the government that made Boris Johnson Foreign Secretary manage its way out of the proverbial paper sack.  The idea is rubbish from the land of Murdoch.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          I don’t doubt the potential perfidy of Albion.  I doubt its “deep state’s” ability and resources.  As for the attempted murders of the Skripals, I accept that Russia is the usual and prime suspect.  I concede that there is more than one, if only because the evidence offered by Theresa May is conclusory rather than factual, and some her ministers’ public statements are so obviously false.

      • bell says:

        david and goliath… you want to go with goliath… no julian assange, no chelsea manning or edward snowden…

        interesting way to negate the content….

  9. SC says:

    ” . . . probably knows a lot about other crimes  . . . ”

    Whew, I’d guess that a _lot_ of people will get twitchy if Manafort flips. His work in the Ukraine was only the most recent muck in a long career of dodgy behavior. He’s a walking Ross Thomas novel. Buried in those leaked texts with his daughters are things like “Trump probably has more morals than my dad. Which is really just saying something about my dad. My dad is a psycho!!!” and “I [Manafort’s daughter] can sell my memoir with all his dirty secrets for a pretty penny.” and “That money we have is blood money.”

    As far as I can tell, Manafort has never shown an inkling of interest in truth or justice. He’s worked for really bad people and done bad things all of his life. Even during his recent family extreme financial and personal crises, he’s apparently doubled down and shown no interest in doing the right thing.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      For Mueller’s implied threat to Kathleen Manafort to work in persuading Paul to flip, Paul would have to want to keep his wife out of prison more than he wanted to avoid other outcomes.  Prison may be no worse and a lot better than some of the outcomes a few of his past clients could imagine.  Besides, Manafort, unlike Gates and many people here, hasn’t show sensitivity toward the lives of others for quite some time.

      • SC says:

        ” . . . want to keep his wife out of prison . . . ” 

        His recent history makes it pretty clear how much he cares about his wife’s well-being.

        • bmaz says:

          So very easy to say when your client’s wife is not yet in play, versus when she truly is and his mature children will judge him at his grave on how he dealt with that. Things change quickly.

  10. NorskieFlamethrower says:

    With regard to Manafort, it seems that almost everyone around here is waiting for when not if he is going to flip. I am wondering what real incentive Mueller and the prosecutors can offer him that would make any part of his life worth living from this point forward. Pressure on Mrs. Manafort assumes that there is something that she can give up that would make the final outcome for him any worse. And then, of course, there are the forces to which he has mortgaged his soul who hold the threat of death no matter where he lands, be it a “Club Fed”, a Leavenworth or even freedom on the street. Unless Mueller can find a cell in him of altruism, “patriotism” or capacity for feeling beyond his own sorry ass, I am thinking that he can not in any way reduce his loses. In fact, this moment right now, fighting the Mueller dragon who has real, lethal teeth, is probably as good as it’s ever going to get for him. I just can’t see him folding anytime soon. The moment he does it is over for him, literally. What am I missing?

    • SC says:

      I have the same problem with him flipping: Why? The only upside I see for flipping is feeling good about doing the right thing and his whole career has made his views on truth and justice quite clear. The downside of flipping is equally clear, a large number of very powerful people will be very angry at him. I too keep feeling like maybe I’m missing something. Maybe there are stats that show that people in his situation tend to flip, or might flip, or have occasionally flipped? Maybe. I can’t think of any flippers in his situation. I can, however, think of a lot of people who went to their graves as the last person proclaiming their innocence.

      • NorskieFlamethrower says:

        That’s just it, even as one of his daughters says, he’s a despicable 6 foot pile of shit with legs. He has absolutely no sense of morality, empathy, ethics or concern for anything outside his own rotting, putrid self. But we are now at a time in history where the entire world is being taken apart and sold among  like-minded oligarchs not unlike one of the heroes in a bad Robert Heinlein novel.

        • JD12 says:

          Mueller has played it perfectly but Manafort is definitely not normal. To someone like Manafort, flipping is the worst possible outcome. He’s looking at a lot of time even if he cooperates, he definitely seems arrogant enough to think he could actually get off in trial. He could also think Trump will pardon him, even if he still could face state charges. In case he lost, he’s the kind of person that could end it all, his profile in The Atlantic started with him in a psych ward. People like him can’t accept spending the rest of his life in prison. He doesn’t care about consequences like a normal person.

    • jayedcoins says:

      I was thinking about the same thing yesterday. It seems like the best version of life Manafort has left to live is the one he’s living now — he’s not in a prison cell, but he’s not roaming the streets, vulnerable to the non-SCO forces that would have it out for him. That rationale explains his legal team throwing up these Hail Marys… just extend this purgatory for him as long as possible.

      The other thing I was thinking — which I think people here probably have a lot of insight on — what are the potential motives Manafort has for NOT flipping? Does it come down to Manafort having three “suitable” options?

      1. Stay in his current purgatory.

      2. Attain a pardon or commutation that will somehow protect him from whatever he fears so much that he currently sees #1 as indefinitely acceptable? If so, what is it that the pardon/commutation would (indirectly) protect him from?

      3. Waiting to see when/if there’s a deal to be made with SCO that will protect him from whatever it is he’s terrified of? Not sure why he’d expect to get such a deal by waiting for indictments of exceeding severity to pile up… maybe it’s as simple as timing — what he knows he expects to be worth more closer to June/July (“If it’s what you say it is I love it, especially later in the summer!”).

      As always, I appreciate the discussions and the education provided by the sharp minds around here.

      • Trip says:

        He doesn’t want to go to prison. He believes he doesn’t deserve to. He has lived his entire professional existence aiding and abetting the same type of leaders, so much so that his hands are likely red-tinged, from years of blood money. Why would he imagine that suddenly he should be held accountable, where the US government allowed him to operate this way forever? He sees nothing wrong with what he’s done. He is arrogant, self-centered and obviously has a high threshold for stress while carrying out unlawful actions.
        He’s most likely a psychopath.

        Flipping may cause untimely ‘accidents’ like falling out of windows, fatal gunshot wounds, poisoning, or massive contusions officially determined to be ‘cardiac arrest’ or maybe ‘suicide’. I doubt he’d be truly safe in a witness protection program. If the poisonings of the Skripals were carried out by Kremlin operatives (and I think that were, in spite of the lack of absolute forensic proof), then it is a strong statement, “We will come for you, no matter how long it takes, no matter where you go”.

        Manafort probably thinks that if he gets off somehow (with Trump cult jurors), or is pardoned, that he can carry on as before, maybe register as a lobbyist next time. It’s not like the GOP has high standards for character in operatives, or even candidates, for that matter. Maybe he will see a reward for his ‘loyalty’.

        The only possible motivation to flip, as advanced by bmaz, is if he has any concern for his family (his wife), or at least the appearance of concern for his family (if he cares about what his daughters think in re to the treatment of their mother).

        • jayedcoins says:

          I think the argument that he’s a psychopath is as good as anything. It’s an all too common pattern in America — old white man is brought up in an environment where the nominal rules don’t apply to him, and so by the time he’s old, he is genuinely incapable of seeing that simple fact of corruption. I’m sure you’re right — Paul Manafort’s career certainly indicates that he thinks he should be and is able to do whatever the fuck he wants, whenever the fuck he wants it.

          To your point about “accidents,” that’s sort of the core of the question — what is that exact thing that he’s terrified of? Seems we may never know, but goddamn if we’re not curious.

          • Trip says:

            Internationally, psychopaths are cultivated and valued. They serve well. No conscience to get in the way of the job. Look at the very end of this thread, the breadth and depth of how much of this BS is deployed across the globe, not just by and for Russia.  It is pandemic. It shows that money governs the world, versus nations, and through intermediaries just like Manafort, who are largely left alone to carry on their work.

            After these articles were posted in the past, there might be outrage, but it is usually followed by collective shrugs. Mostly NOTHING happens to these operators, because it is undercover “business as usual”.

            • pseudonymous in nc says:

              He’s a psychopath rewarded in a market for American psychopaths who have been able to lobby for the world’s worst regimes in DC or fuck over elections with innovative American approaches to campaign funding and communications in exchange for McMansions in northern Virginia. He was the Russian troll factory and Cambridge Analytica before they fucking existed. He is no less a mercenary bastard than Eric Prince.

              He needs to go down pour encourager les autres.

  11. Avattoir says:

    bell – That article merits a review in the voice of SNL’s Stefon:
    If you need your theory consp’d, the internet’s steaming news-like underbelly is currently being adorned by Disobedient Media. This site has EVERYTHING – craptastical recycled equine waste matter-based “evidence”, post-dubious “reasoning” brimming with artisanal virtual bonds alchemed from unicorn tail hairs, vast mysteriostic kanoodlings spun off meaningless meet-and-greet photos with pols, celebs & insupportably-alleged Deepsters, all cured in a home-schooled funky brew of leavings from the dumpsters in back of the dodgiest think tanks, spewed out in a continuous stream of confeve and myst.,fl_progressive,q_80,w_636.png

  12. Bob Conyers says:

    In a parallel case, Bill O’Reilly lost a ruling on whether he could have documents sealed regarding his hush money settlements.

    Like the Manafort case, the judge in this case basically said stop it with the idiotic nonsense, what works on Fox doesn’t work in a courtroom.

    I’ve cycled through a variety of theories about why Manafort hasn’t flipped. I’m wondering now whether, like O’Reilly, he’s not just massively deluded.

      • Bob Conyers says:

        I think that was theory #2. I’m up to theory #38 with that guy. I’m sure I’ll get to more as time goes on.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        I vote for the compromised by the wrong people, who take flipping less casually than does a short-order cook.

        • Trip says:

          Maybe it’s like old world La Cosa Nostra, where you do your time quietly, and never betray the organization.
          ‘My Flesh Would Burn'”I had to pronounce the oath whereby I was to say that should I betray the organization, my flesh would burn like this saint,” Buscetta said.

          …He never rolled, ya know that? He never rolled! My brother Gene, Joey Dimig, they’re doing a thousand years now. Why? That’s the rule. You don’t break, you don’t rat. Gives you a bit of power, huh? Not the kind of power these Feds have. God forbid, we pull their chain in public. Fuckin’ dress better than them they take it personal likes it’s a fuckin vendetta. There supposed to act better than the rest of us. (Gotti quotes in film)

    • Dev Null says:

      @Conyers: “deluded”

      I haven’t seen much in the way of personal descriptions of Manafort (so who knows) but I gather that extreme narcissists (“NPD”) create their own realities.

      But perhaps he’s just a psychopath.

  13. Rugger9 says:

    Bobby Three Sticks is a First Draft invention, part of its New Orleans wing. However, all of this reduction in Manafort’s defenses under siege means that it’s no longer a question of jail time but how long it will be (pardon or no pardon, let’s not forget the NYS charges at least). Also, the question of who Paul is trying to protect needs to be answered clearly, especially given that his previous lack of scruples in clients and conduct indicated he would not be loyal to anyone. The Kaiser? Probably not outside of a possibility for a pardon. Vladimir V. Putin? I think this is much more likely knowing that a death sentence awaits if he flips too far and gets FSB’d.

    Otherwise, there is nothing that indicates to me why he’s digging in. At least Benedict Flynn is trying to protect his son (who’s trying to push his limits like an idiot), but Paulie is not. Why?

    • Avattoir says:

      Nothing’s holding Manafort back from flipping … other than an already short remaining life of either indigent anonymity, or ignominy within his own tribe and the constant overhang of an excruciating chemically-induced end.

  14. Rugger9 says:

    Avattoir, I would agree about the lack of known reasons, and since Gates has already gone over the window for Manafort to get someplace other than Marion (yeah, artistic license) is closing fast. He’s enough of an experienced hand at these kinds of politics to know how much he has left now that the judge stomped on his best line of defense. The time to make terms is before forcing a siege to its bitter end.

    He’s been in the world of ignominy and relative indigence and bounced back, so I’m sure it is Putin he fears (or maybe Putin doing something worse?).

  15. quake says:

    Typos in OP
    an less redacted ==> a less redacted
    (unsurprisingly) persuasive ==> (unsurprisingly) unpersuasive
    [If I’m not misunderstanding you.]

  16. david sanger says:

    ” . . . probably knows a lot about other crimes  . . . ”

    including interactions between Vladimir Putin and Viktor Yanukovych…

  17. yogarhythms says:

    I’ve never met Paully. I have met a wealthy man like him and his daughters. I told the daughters I’d never met someone who could say “F…you” with their eyes before. The daughters laughed and said that’s our dad. I don’t see the word “Uncle” on his horizon. For the sake of three sticks I hope I’m mistaken.

  18. Trip says:

    emptywheel retweeted

    The Cipher Brief
    Ex-CIA Chief Brennan’s Broadsides Against Trump Only Help Putin “He played right into the hands of an adversary trying to widen the partisan divide.” — @CIA & Moscow vet Dan Hoffman

    I’m sorry, Marcy, but what a load of horseshit. I’m no fan of Brennan. And there were probably better routes in which to direct his ire and energy, like speaking with Mueller (and who knows whether he actually has?), but to opine that Brennan’s statement somehow is a giant catalyst of
    divide, whereby we’d all otherwise be roasting marshmallows and singing Kumbaya in a community circle, thwarting Kremlin efforts at chaos, is absurdist. It reeks of analysis intended only to assert Hoffman’s personal/professional superiority over the subject, Brennan. If Brennan broke protocol, that’s one thing. It’s quite another to assert that his public speculation directly aids Putin any further in a country mired in divide, as driven BY TRUMP.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Excellent question.  No one here imagines Paul Manafort ever worked for anybody for “free”.

      It’s almost Friday.  Smile for the day, from Seth Meyers and the Guardian:

      “President Trump said today that nobody’s been tougher to Russia than Donald Trump,” Meyers began. “And Vladimir Putin said: ‘It’s true, he’s been a terrible employee…Never come to work, always golfing.’”

      For Putin, though, that would be a feature, not a failing.

    • Trip says:

      He was paid, at least in part, by Deripaska. $60 million worth.

      According to company documents obtained by NBC News in Cyprus, funds were sent from a company owned by Deripaska to entities linked to Manafort, registered in Cyprus.

      “Money launderers frequently will disguise payments as loans,” said Stefan Cassella, a former federal prosecutor. “You can call it a loan, you can call it Mary Jane. If there’s no intent to repay it, then it’s not really a loan. It’s just a payment.”

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      As an American citizen, Manafort would not have violated campaign finance laws by donating his services – an in-kind contribution – to Trump’s campaign.  The likelihood seems to be that he did not donate them, but was paid by other, foreign interests.  If proven, that would be an illegal campaign contribution by them to Trump’s campaign and, I believe, it would have been illegal to accept it.

  19. Skippy says:

    In my opinion, Manafort cannot flip
    If he does, they will kill him
    If he goes into protection, they will kill his wife
    if they both go, they will kill his family …

    “They” are the Russian Mob. He is fucked but he asked for it

  20. tinao says:

    Psychological profile, I’d say manafort fits more into the sociopath than the psychopath. Believe it or not, even a psychopath can feel remorse. Not so with a sociopath. They have no regard or remorse for ANYONE. It’s a total disconnect for them. They are the most dangerous in my opinion. Usually very bright and manipulative so people very often get taken in. I don’t think the family will matter much to him. If he has to weigh a horrible death from the russians or flip on trump, my money’s on flipping because sociopaths will always try to save their own skin.




    • earlofuntingdon says:

      Manafort’s choice could be a horrible death or impairment from unknown parties by flipping on Trump vs. going to jail for a host of financial crimes.  In that scenario, I’d say the sociopathic Manafort chooses jail.  Not flipping on Trump and, by extension, not flipping on his other clients, is what might save Manafort’s skin, but land him in prison. It might also land his wife in prison. Both sides, among other strategies, are playing pour encourager les autres.

      • tinao says:

        Yes, taking jail time while keeping mouth closed would save his skin, but he will go buggy there and I think he who knows that. He is desperate at this point and might take the gamble. Heck, he’s been gambling with his life all along. It would be a good time for Mueller to keep charges coming, no?

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