Checkmate: The Manafort Cooperation Is Pardon Proof

I was virtually certain that the plea deal Manafort is pleading to today would include cooperation — and I was correct. Andrew Weissmann told Amy Berman Jackson that the deal does require Manafort cooperation.

I was certain not just because of the tease in the Special Counsel announcement, above, that additional information would be forthcoming.

But the fact that no media outlet was able to confirm whether or not the plea would include cooperation could only be possible if Mueller had made silence about that fact part of the deal. Otherwise, Manafort’s lawyers would have confirmed that it included no cooperation to placate the President. As it was, no one outside of the deal knew that the plea did include cooperation until Manafort was already pleading guilty.

And at this point, the deal is pardon proof. That was part of keeping the detail secret: to prevent a last minute pardon from Trump undercutting it.

Here’s why this deal is pardon proof:

  1. Mueller spent the hour and a half delay in arraignment doing … something. It’s possible Manafort even presented the key parts of testimony Mueller needs from him to the grand jury this morning.
  2. The forfeiture in this plea is both criminal and civil, meaning DOJ will be able to get Manafort’s $46 million even with a pardon.
  3. Some of the dismissed charges are financial ones that can be charged in various states.

Remember, back in January, Trump told friends and aides that Manafort could incriminate him (the implication was that only Manafort could). I believe Mueller needed Manafort to describe what happened in a June 7, 2016 meeting between the men, in advance of the June 9 meeting. I have long suspected there was another meeting at which Manafort may be the only other Trump aide attendee.

And Manafort has probably already provided evidence on whatever Mueller needed.

So here’s what Robert Mueller just did: He sewed up the key witness to implicate the President, and he paid for the entire investigation. And it’s only now lunch time.

As I disclosed July, I provided information to the FBI on issues related to the Mueller investigation, so I’m going to include disclosure statements on Mueller investigation posts from here on out. I will include the disclosure whether or not the stuff I shared with the FBI pertains to the subject of the post. 


191 replies
  1. R.Q.E. says:

    How does Manafort’s cooperation work with the Joint Defense Agreement? I haven’t seen anything about him switching representation a la Rick Gates.

    • Avattoir says:

      Leadership is a skill.

      IMO most of those working under Mueller in the OSC are better than he ever was at particular things on the CRAFT side that we see prosecuting attorneys do. Examples:

      – landscape conceptualization, how to attack it (Dreeben is gifted.);

      – witness mining (Ahmad’s superpower.);

      – cyberstuff (Dickey);

      – “follow the money” (Freeny);

      – warrants: how to get & keep it (Meisler);

      – logistics (Rhee & Weismann visionary & bold at this, don’t see a need to pick one over other, but if had to it’d be Rhee);

      – drafting (Dreeben is brilliantly spare at story-telling, nouns renowned / verbs superb);

      – examining witnesses in chief (In fairness, Mueller has a great rep for thoroughness & focus at this combination of skill & talent … except it’s a muscle he hasn’t exercised directly for like a quarter century; regardless, I don’t know of any prosecutor better at it these days than Andres.);

      – game management, including difficult judges (Weissmann, & several others … normally Andres, but the judge in EDVA, tho not unique in posing stupid & stubborn challenges was definitely extreme at both.);

      – money laundering & assets seizures & forfeitures (Goldstein’s all over this.).

      And a big part of leadership in an endeavor like this is recognizing, attracting and enabling all that talent.

      • orionATL says:

        avattoir –

        this is both informative as to details of the ofc division of labor, and a beautiful description of team-building that any pro-team general manager and coach would envy.


      • Tracy says:

        When I read this I think of Hamilton’s “The Room Where it Happened” – and having just seen Operation Finale, I wonder if one day we will get a dramatization of what happened in the room when Manafort broke down and accepted his fate.

      • Pete says:

        Thanks for the breakdown.  The Marines taught him well and he has honed his leadership skills in other trenches ever since.

        Well worth repeating – THIS is what Trump and his bone spurs are up against:

  2. Trip says:

    If I were a gambler (I’m not), I would have lost this bet. I actually never imagined Manafort cooperating.

    It’s funny how the WH is back to “we barely knew him” after previously stating what a great guy he was, how brave, and how his arrest was an affront on the country and democracy itself.

    • Marquise Navidad says:

      Everyone talks in the end. When you’re staring down a lifetime in prison the only thing you have left is maintaining the possibility of getting out one day.  The question is what does Manafort have to offer Mueller.  I am thinking we’re going to find out very soon.

    • Gamboler says:

      He shouted “Fuck that gator!” but didn’t actually dive into a bayou containing a live gator. As per Spinal Tap, it’s such a fine line between stupid and clever.

    • Avattoir says:

      Obviously we don’t know nearly enough on this to pronounce, but right now my money’s on the take bmaz has pushed from the beginning: wife & family.

      • Trip says:

        I think he’s still hopeful he’ll get out before he dies. I think Manafort is a sociopath who doesn’t care about his wife.

  3. pseudonymous in nc says:

    I wish the court reporters had been staking out the DC courthouse to see when exactly Paulie arrived.

    Mildly interesting that Westling was the lead lawyer in the courtroom today and not Downing.

      • pseudonymous in nc says:

        Downing was there and gave a statement to the press outside the courtroom: “He wanted to make sure that his family was able to remain safe and live a good life. He’s accepted responsibility. This is for conduct that dates back many years and everybody should remember that.”

        “Remain safe”? Huh.

        • Caren Tarvin says:

          I figured Manafort would never flip because he was afraid of polonium tea for his daughters.

          One daughter has already changed her name.  I think WP for his family is part of the deal.  They simply had to convince him it was the only way to be sure.

  4. Klattu says:

    Accepting a Pardon also means that privilege against self-incrimination also disappears. That means they can force him to testify anyway.

    • bmaz says:

      Dude, pardon is done with at this point. And you point is not totally clear even it=f there was to be a pardon because Manafort would still have had ability to try to argue maintenance of 5th privileges because of state prosecutions. This plea eliminates all that. Let’s not make the picture stupid.

      • maybe ryan says:

        I never really understood this line of argument (that a pardon would eliminate the privilege against self-incrimination.)  The whole point would be that the pardon clinched  a corrupt criminal bargain between the parties.  If a pardon were plenary, then the witness could proceed to lie with impunity.

        As BMaz says, the question is academic at this point.  But am I missing something?  Is there any reason to think that had this followed another scenario, that a pardoned Manafort would have felt the need to tell the truth about his co-conspirators?

        • KM says:

          I’m not sure I totally follow, but I think at least a couple of distinct issues are getting mixed up here.  One is the 5th Amendment thing.  As bmaz mentioned, it seems that widespread, confidently-asserted claims that a pardon nixes a person’s 5A rights are misplaced to the extent that the pardoned person is still vulnerable to state charges.

          However, if 5A isn’t invoked or applicable, then the pardoned person can presumably face perjury and false statements charges if caught lying during testimony or while speaking with the authorities.  That’s the popular “line of argument”, I think.

          As for (“plenary”) pardons:  of course the president can issue a blanket pardon for any and all crimes someone has committed, and it’s possible for that to be a “prospective pardon”, but that only means it applies to crimes that have already been committed but haven’t yet been charged.  There doesn’t seem to be such a thing as a pardon for any crimes that someone may commit in the future.  So the president would then be forced to issue new pardons if the pardoned person were subsequently caught in perjury or false statements.

          (But IANAL, so take for what it’s worth.)

          • Bo says:

            IAAL, and the trope that “pardon eliminates the 5th amendment” constantly irks me.

            If Manafort – or any defendant – is still vulnerable to state prosecution, he still retains 5th amd privs as to that subject matter.  So stuff related to “NY state tax evasion” would still allow him to assert the 5th.  Now while “did you accept money from Russia” could be legit from some angles … what if the money was also laundered, so could be evidence for a NY State prosecution?

            In real-life court rooms, it is very rarely as easy as internet commenters tell you.

        • Anon says:

          One issue may be that you technically have to be convicted to be pardoned (as Joe Arpao learned on live TV). So you cannot claim a right against self-incrimination for something that requires you be incriminated.

            • Anon says:

              How so? I get that it would not affect the requirement that you testify about other crimes but you have to be convicted of some in order to be pardoned for them don’t you?

              • bmaz says:

                You can be pardoned for any specific conduct, even in a blanket fashion, whether it has been charged yet or not much less whether convicted on. See Ford’s pardon of Nixon.

              • earlofhuntingdon says:

                To repeat bmaz’s comment, that is not correct.  The federal pardon power can apply to any crime the pardonee committed or might have committed.  The Nixon example is the most relevant.  It reads in relevant part as follows (emph. added):

                Now, THEREFORE, I, GERALD R. FORD, President of the United States, pursuant to the pardon power conferred upon me by Article II, Section 2, of the Constitution, have granted and by these presents do grant a full, free, and absolute pardon unto Richard Nixon for all offenses against the United States which he, Richard Nixon, has committed or may have committed or taken part in during the period from January 20, 1969 through August 9, 1974.

                That period covers the period of Nixon’s presidency.  A complete get out of jail free card.  No cooperation, no disclosure, no public record, no change of people or process.

      • Paul F Neal says:

        Perhaps, but there are currently no state prosecutions of Manafort so the notion of having the ability to plead the 5th after a pardon is likewise moot. Just saying.

        • bmaz says:

          Fine. Here is what I am saying: You are wrong. The question is whether there are even potential state charges, NOT whether they are lodged currently or not. Because that would be silly. Manafort could otherwise, if pardoned, have asserted the 5th still and made the government demand what is effectively a Kastigar hearing on whether or not the privilege applied to the testimony being sought. That is obviated now.

  5. orionATL says:

    Checkmate indeed. Hanks ew.

    beautiful job  office of special counsel!!

    Still,i’d like To know if there are any restrictions on managort’s cooperation.

  6. Andy Hall says:

    “Mildly interesting that Westling was the lead lawyer in the courtroom today and not Downing.”

    Downing was busy sending about three dozen e-mails with the heading, “Re: Joint Defense Agreement.”

  7. Trip says:

    Marcy, does this have the potential to make Pence more vulnerable? How about McGahn, Burcke and the push for Kavanaugh on SCOTUS?

  8. viget says:

    Please, please tell me that Flynn’s testimony has the goods on Pence…  I hope to see 3 indictments next week, Don Jr., Stone and Pence with Mr. President to be named US PERSON #1 as an unindicted co-conspirator in all 3 ConFraudUS charges.

    Pence will be forced to resign, the Orange One will not be able to nominate a replacement due to the cloud of suspicion, and Repug congresscritters will have to choose: Support the Preznit and face possible voter backlash, or call for impeachment.  Either way Trump will have to resign eventually.  And if he doesn’t, the plea deals of Stone and Jr. will all but sink him anyway.  Trump is out, and the new Democratic Speaker of the House is President.  QED.

    At least that’s my fantasy as to how this plays out.  Am I on the right track?

      • Tracy says:

        LOL – I just think it’s impossible that Pence, as head of transition team, didn’t know about Flynn – also, Maddow reported that in Woodward’s book, Pence was at meetings in which the Flynn situation was being discussed after Sally Yates’ warning. I don’t know if this was before or after he claimed he’d been lied to, but it seems sketchy, and I hope (and think) we will get to know more!

    • prudence2001 says:

      One last step. The new Dem Speaker of the House, once becoming President, appoints Hillary Clinton as Veep. Then new President decides she doesn’t want the job, resigns, and HC becomes President. Republicans’ heads all over the country and on live Fox tv spontaneously explode.

  9. TheVirginian says:

    Judge Amy Berman Jackson says Manafort’s cooperation agreement includes:
    – interviews and briefings he’ll give to the special counsel’s office
    – turning over documents
    – testifying in other proceedings

      • maybe ryan says:

        Was it in EW’s twitter feed that I read that Manafort waived the right to be accompanied by counsel during such interviews?

        Is that standard?  Or interesting?

        I could see the SCO worrying Manafort might still try to have it both ways, knowing he would be incommunicado but bringing an attorney willing to serve as Trump backchannel.

        Maybe I’m paranoid.  But everything about the whole saga induces paranoia, no?

    • david sanger says:

      wondering what documents Manafort had that he had not yet turned over, ie. that weren’t in the storage locker.

      • maybe ryan says:

        Well, but does Trump or anyone beholden to him have holdings significant to make Manafort whole without crippling themselves?  $60 million is a lot.  But if a corrupt presidency is on the line, might there be ways of pulling that sort of money together?

        $60 million isn’t exactly Kickstarter territory.

        • Phil says:

          I don’t believe Trump would pay anybody a penny to remain President, mostly because I think he ran for President as a money making operation, but i do believe he would do so to preserve his wealth. So it kind of depends on what criminal and civil liability Trump is looking at. Its funny, but if there was some way that he could settle this, I think he would. But the only person who has anything remotely like the powers to give him what he wants is himself, and maybe Andrew Cuomo. LMAO.

  10. Erin McJ says:

    What does the government do with a repossessed million dollar house? Does it go on the market? Imagine being that real estate agent. Or do they use the house themselves and save some money on some functionary they’re currently supporting at umpty thou per month in rent?

    • maybe ryan says:

      My understanding is that Trump already agreed that the government will rent the house at a nominal $1 / year rent to the Russians to replace the Long Island safehouse the Obama administration had taken away from them.

    • Peterr says:

      Depends on the house and the needs of the government. In general, though, property seized through forfeiture goes through a sales process to turn it into cash.

      I think GSA acts as the real estate agent, but imagine the fun someone’s going to have writing up the listing . . . “Own a piece of history! . . .”

      • Anon says:

        Yes the sale for cash is typical. This has been an issue in the arguments over Civl Forfeiture in drug cases. Some groups who oppose the practice of seizure have noted that things, like an innocent person’s home, can be sold and converted to cash long before their claim of due process can be filed. As a consequence the loss of a home is a fait accompli and practical remedies are not always possible.

  11. Bob Conyers says:

    I wouldn’t be shocked if the genius Trump boys decide this is a good time to approach Mueller seeking immunity in exchange for all of the dirt they can give on Manafort.

  12. Ed Smiley says:

    Is civil forfeiture pardon proof? I’ve seen arguments that it isn’t.

    Even if it isn’t that doesn’t detract from the main argument, since the federal tax and financial crimes open a Pandora’s box of evidence of related state crimes.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      A president’s pardon power applies only to federal crimes.  It does not apply to federal civil actions or to any state criminal or civil actions.

      That’s one reason the NYAG’s civil action against the Trump Foundation is so interesting.  The NY governor’s pardon power is also limited to state criminal actions, meaning the civil action against the TF would not be reachable by a pardon from Cuomo.

  13. Jim195 says:

    Hmmm, doesn’t that joint defense agreement now provide Mueller with information the Trump attorneys shared with Manafort?

    • Drew says:

      No. That is protected by attorney client privilege, I’m pretty sure. The cooperating attorneys are representing clients who assert that privilege for themselves–so Downing can’t say what Burke told him about his clients’ strategy, for instance. I’m not sure how that would effect voluntary statements by Manafort, but I doubt he can be force to disclose those legal strategies. That doesn’t mean he doesn’t testify against the others, nor does it mean that elements can’t be leaked by the other clients of other attorneys. (Though only the stupidest attorneys would leak this stuff–look for news at 6 from Ruday911)

    • Kevin Finnerty says:

      It’s an interesting question that I don’t know the answer to. The client retains the privilege and the attorney is duty bound to protect it. So Manafort’s lawyers certainly can’t disclose information that the 36 other members of the JDA want to keep secret. But if Manafort himself learned information about others through the JDA, it’s not clear to me that he would have to abide by attorney-client privilege. It could be that Mueller would be prohibited from using information gleaned directly from Manafort in this manner as evidence at trial. But as a starting point for parallel construction, it could be useful.

      Presumably this is an issue that has come up before because JDAs fall apart all the time. Though probably not one this expansive. The criminal defense attorneys on this site would know more than me. This is outside my area of expertise.

      • bmaz says:

        It is hard to know without seeing the formal JDA agreement, which of course, we will not see. That said, as to the real question, keep in mind that attorney client and other such privileges belong to the holder and mostly protect against evidentiary and testimonial situations. I think Manafort is duty bound to talk. If others within the JDA, or its hub, Trump, want to try to prevent admission of any such evidence of testimony later, they can try.

        • Tracy says:

          Interesting issue – on another note, isn’t Manafort bound to say whether there was a convo about pardons? (T: I’ll give you one if you stay mum.)

    • SteveB says:

      My guess on this is that there are two intertwined constraints

      1 if PM lawyers alerted other lawyer parties to JDA then they have identified a conflict of interest between their client and the other parties, which brings the JDA to an end; that would be a premature end from Manaforts pov, as until a coop agreement is in place he would want to have ability/option of staying in JDA; failing to protect this interest would be a gross piece of malpractice IMHO.
      2 No doubt SC team would have impressed on PM that any tipping off by him or on his behalf would adversely affect the terms of any deal and be grounds for tearing it up, if they uncover any such actions; so yet again tipping off would be malpractice in this respect.

      Not that I am familiar with the practices and ethics surounding JDAs, but considerations such as this would play a part I would have thought

    • Kick the darkness says:

      And I guess it would also appear that, from Team Trump’s perspective, the JDA with Manafort’s team really didn’t do them a whole lot of good in the end.   Manafort flipped anyway, and now Mueller’s team knows what they wanted to know.  I wonder how it would have played out if Trump had played the pardon card at the end of the VA trial.

  14. John Forde says:

    One very happy aspect of Manafort’s cooperation deal is that it brings closer to us the telling of the EW backstory.

  15. Kevin says:

    A few minutes before 11am, about 2 dozen people showed up for the prosecution, including Weissman, Andres, Freeny, Rhee, Dreeben, Van Grack, Zelinsky, Asonye, the FBI guys, and others I didn’t recognize.

  16. Trip says:

    Manafort and a top Israeli official plotted to dirty up Tymoshenko as an anti-semite.

    (excerpt Rawstory)

    “Manafort privately coordinated with an unnamed senior Israeli official to spread this story as part of what he called an effort to have ‘Obama Jews’ pressure the Obama administration to disavow Tymoshenko,” NBC News reports. “Manafort wrote to one associate: ‘I have someone pushing it on the NY Post. Bada bing bada boom.’ At least one outlet — Breitbart News — took Manafort’s bait.

  17. sand says:

    Thank you Robert Mueller and everyone at OSC, on behalf of the American people and the world. Thank God you all are on our team.

  18. joejoejoe says:

    I had wild rice soup and pumpkin pie for lunch. And this delicious post! Thank you to the chef(s) at this joint.

  19. maestro says:

    Someone who will only allow themselves to be identified as “a person familiar” or “a source close to the defense” keeps spinning reporters saying “this cooperation agreement has nothing to do with Russia or the Trump campaign” and they keep printing it.

  20. Kokuanani says:

    I hope folks here are sending links to EW’s articles to MSNBC and suggesting her presence on tonight’s shows.

      • Bob Conyers says:

        It’s a symptom of a few things about NPR.

        One is their fast and loose position on sources. Like you say, they’ll keep pretty much anything off the record for any reason.

        Another is their automatic reflex to give “both sides” of a story, no matter how stupid and easily disproven one side is.

        And finally, they don’t treat this story seriously. They have no dedicated reporter on this beat, no in-house expert, nobody setting editorial standards. It’s been an easy call that they should have made this move a long time ago, but they (like most large outfits, to be fair) have done the same thing.

      • orionATL says:

        copied quote from pinc’s cite above:

        “… Carrie Johnson


        IMPORTANT NEW addition: plea agreement requires Manafort to cooperate “in any and all matter as to which the government deems the cooperation relevant” including full, complete testimony to the grand jury in DC (link:…”

        bmaz was on her case good:



        This is absolutely absurd. It includes ALL matters…

        Jesse Wegman


        that was my understanding too. And CNN reporting the broader scope…



        Yes, it is crystal clear, not just from practice, but the plea colloquy with ABJ as reported…”

    • Kick the darkness says:

      A somewhat different angle I guess.  In my mental movie version I was picturing her walking out of the courtroom today.  The camera pans in, revealing the faintest hint of an impenetrable Mona Lisa smile.

      • Kick the darkness says:

        No, scratch that.  Read more.  I take it back.  She gets a 7 digit house in FL, nicer than I’ll ever live in.  But I get a sense she will do so looking backwards, with regrets, and it will be empty.  Maybe I’m just getting soft, but I did not get the pleasure of out of PM’s plea that I thought I would.  For those who make their living as prosecutors, at the moment of justice, does it always just seem tragic, pathetic?  So I got this sense that we, us, the good guys, have a good shot at winning this thing, whatever that really means.  But whatever satisfaction there is to be had in that will be grim.

  21. Peterr says:

    So here’s what Robert Mueller just did: He sewed up the key witness to implicate the President, and he paid for the entire investigation. And it’s only now lunch time.

    To borrow from Charlie Pierce, “And after lunch is cleared off his desk, Robert Mueller reaches for another folder.”

    For all the talk of Trump melting down, or the impact on his presidency, I’m at least as curious about what happened in Moscow when this broke. Mueller already has a dozen Russians under indictment, and now has sent another very strong message to the Russians: Be afraid, Mr. Putin. Be very afraid.

    Fortunately, I’m sure our State Department is all over the international implications of . . . oh, hell. Who am I kidding?

    • maybe ryan says:

      Yes, I wonder what other prosecutors internationally are salivating at the prospect of reading Manafort testimony and beginning to develop their own cases.

      • maybe ryan says:

        Does the former Polish prime minister have any vulnerability for accepting Manafort Ukrainian money while he was in the Euro-parliament?

    • orionATL says:

      an interesting question.

      people may not think so, but putin played a very dicey game :)

      and a very sloppy one.

      he could lose big among his people, and he may have destroyed any prospect for better american-russian relations, or sanctions relief, for years.

      my father-in-law once told “be careful in trying to bury someone else, you don’t end up burying yourself too”.

    • JWR12 says:

      I’m not a lawyer, so I am very grateful for the analysis presented here and in the comments.  I do know something about Russia, Putin, and Russian politics.  My take on this has always been that the Putin government was never completely thrilled about Trump taking office.  That wasn’t really the plan–the plan was to hobble Clinton with, yes, fake news, and intensify US dysfunction.  Trump winning opened unprecedented opportunities — particularly the possibility of destabilizing Nato and Europe more generally.  But all of that also involves tremendous downside risk for Putin and his machine, as well : to the extent that it involves huge downside risks (nuclear war, economic collapse, unpredictable fascist regimes) for everybody.  (That risk is the thing I simply can’t forgive the GOP for accepting in the name of taxes and judges.). We’re not out of the woods on any of that.  But as far as Putin goes — and the Russian deep state he represents — they probably will accept eating some crow and having some secrets revealed if it means restoring sanity to the White House.  In the end, despite their crying about the lost USSR, these are people who were propelled to impossible heights in the 1990s and early 2000s and have done just fine, they have a lot to lose from the chaos too much success in 2016 engendered.

      • Tracy says:

        I appreciate your views; to me, the cultivation of T just seemed more purposeful. When he won, didn’t Russian people celebrate? the “jubilant” Russian parliament broke into applause (according to The Independent), and Sergey Kislyak said something like it was beyond their wildest dreams…

        And just to quote who (I believe, sorry if I mis-state) was Marcy on a podcast: it’s like Putin gathered all his oligarchs and said “Go!” to see who could get T elected, each using their own channels, since so many were employed.

        Plus it seems that Russia has been cultivating T for years, providing loads of cash when he couldn’t get traditional financing (I’m thinking Craig Unger’s House of Trump, House of Putin) – he’s literally indebted to Russian mafia.

        Also, w/ all the Brexit connections, it seems that T fit in quite specifically – he also fits that brand of far-right-nuttery like Nigel Farage, T’s buddy.

        For these reasons, it seems to me like the T cultivation was more strategic.

        I DO think that Putin must be thinking what a bumbling knob his asset is, and would have preferred someone more intelligent – but the Kremlin worked w/ what they had. It would make a funny movie if it weren’t all so serious.

        I hope that this fallout (and what comes) means that the Kremlin will be more loathe to attack us in this next election – one would think that they might lay low – though, they may double down even more. Your thoughts?

  22. klynn says:

    NPR just put an odd tag on the end of their news update. They stated something similar to Trumps lawyer’s tweet about the plea having nothing to do with the Russia investigation.

    • DN says:

      Politico also carried this line in its coverage “However, a source close to the defense told POLITICO, “the cooperation agreement does not involve the Trump campaign. … There was no collusion with Russia.” in the article found here

      Would be quite disappointing if that is indeed the case…

      • Trip says:

        8. Cooperation

        Your client shall cooperate fully, truthfully, completely, and with the Government and other law enforcement authorities identified by the Government in any and all matters as to which the Government deems the cooperation relevant. This cooperation will include, but is not
        limited to, the following:

        The defendant agrees to be fully debriefed and to attend all meetings at which his presence is requested, concerning his participation in and knowledge of all criminal activities.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          If Mueller wants it, and Paulie has it, Mueller gets it.

          The cited language is broad enough to include Russia and the 2016 campaign.  That would seem essential in furthering the principal focus of Mueller’s investigation.

          Hard to see how Mueller would have agreed to any limitation such as keeping the 2016 campaign off limits, given that that’s the apparent focus of illegal Russian interference in the past, and any foreign interference in future.

          • KM says:

            Again, the evidence already publicly available (in the superseding criminal information document) would seem to suggest that information about the 2016 Trump campaign has already been provided.

            And anyway, it seems simply insane that Mueller would ever agree to cooperation that excluded the Trump campaign.  Trump himself, I could at least imagine.  But the entire campaign?  That would require that this cooperation be really about nailing the Podestas and the Skaddens — i.e. require that the QAnon fever-dream were reality.

          • Tracy says:

            I would like to know why Manafort resurfaced w/ a tweet after a 3 month hiatus, on Nov 4, 2016, that says: “Battleground states moving to Trump en masse. Media not liking the pattern. By Sunday Trump will be over 270 in the polls.”

            How did he know? (just one of MANY questions…)

      • KM says:

        Adding to Trip:  from a Twitter thread by Jed Shugerman:

        14/ And this is also a good observation from




        on today’s Manafort criminal information on Russian sanctions linking up with the campaign.  So his plea today already reflects cooperation w/r/t the 2016 campaign.

  23. maybe ryan says:

    I’m looking forward to reading the traitor monkeys at the formerly respectable war-skeptic blog now known as Sic Semper Your Anus try to explain this away. A front page poster has already started muttering about a “sketchy” statement of offense. Sold your soul for this, Pat Lang?

  24. klynn says:

    bmaz thank you for holding Carrie accountable! Unfortunately, their live news updates on air continue to be wrong.

  25. Tracy says:

    Thank you, EW! Keep up the great work, all of you!

    Thank you, OSC, for relentlessly pursuing truth and justice for the American people!

    Yesterday I felt down about the 37 people JDA, but this beats the hell outta that story any day!

    This is the best day eeeevvvveeeerrrr!!!!!!!

  26. William Bennett says:

    I’m also seeing that the agreement includes waiving the right to have a lawyer present during any questioning. So yeah, sounds pretty much like a total capitulation to me.

  27. Tom Maguire says:

    A sidebar puzzle from the WaPo account about 2012 Ukrainian election shenanigans: **

    “The document also says Manafort “orchestrated a scheme to have, as he wrote in a contemporaneous communication, ‘[O]bama jews’ put pressure on the administration to disavow Tymoshenko and support Yanukovych,” the document said.

    Manafort set out to spread stories in the United States that a senior American Cabinet official “was supporting anti-Semitism because the official supported Tymoshenko,” according to the document.

    At one point, Manafort wrote to an associate, “I have someone pushing it on the NY Post. Bada bing bada boom.” The document does not identify the then-Cabinet official and it wasn’t immediately clear if any such story was published.”

    The WaPo can’t find a NY Post story and neither can I. However, Google tells me that Ben Shapiro, wrting in Breitbart, had two Tymo-bashers oriented to anti-semitism in Oct. 2012. A snippet:

    “But it gets worse than that. Not only is Yanukovich’s opposition pro-Putin, it reportedly allies itself with open anti-Semites, according to Interfax, a Ukrainian news agency.”

    Both his columns were inspired by a pro-Yanukovich op-ed by a VERY senior Cabinet official, to wit:… Hillary Clinton.

    FWIW Shapiro went on to become a vigorous Never-Trumper but this was 2012 and there is no way he ever backed Hillary.

    [** Link edited to remove tracking info. Please remove unique identifying information from links before sharing to protect readers’ privacy. Thank you. /~Rayne]

  28. AA Bender says:

    Is this Manafort plea the real reason Trump cancelled rallies on Thursday and Friday in Mississippi and Missouri?

    Hurricane Florence isn’t scheduled be anywhere near those two place as far as I can tell…

    • AA Bender says:

      Sorry that was post probably a bit too oblique.   Let me elaborate a bit.

      Page 14 of today’s Manafort document notes: “Apart from the written proffer agreement dated, September 11, 2018, which this agreement supercedes, no agreements, promise, understandings, or representations have been made…”
      Doesn’t this mean that by last Tuesday 9/11 Trump’s lawyers had some notice that Manafort was proffering because of the JDA?  Not my area, but it makes sense.
      If so, the WH would have gone to an ‘all hands on deck’, Defcon 3 status.  It seems they tried to use Hurricane Florence as the rather flimsy cover story.  But whatever made them cancel the rallies, it had to be serious, because Mr. Trump, well he loves himself his rallies.
      Meanwhile during the balance of this week, the Trump tweets have been somewhat subdued, mostly semi-rational, and probably not from Trump’s hand. (Okay the PR/Maria stuff wasn’t rational…but besides..)
      I think this WH behavior just helps confirm Marcy’s and everyone else’s point here of how big of an effin’ deal this is.

      There are the WH ‘tells’ to prove it.

    • readerOfTeaLeaves says:


      And then EW dropped this tasty morsel:

      I believe Mueller needed Manafort to describe what happened in a June 7, 2016 meeting between the men, in advance of the June 9 meeting. I have long suspected there was another meeting at which Manafort may be the only other Trump aide attendee.

      Maybe finalizing sums of money to be paid by various accounts…?  Or perhaps finalizing agreements about how The Donald could listen in on the 9 June meeting, but be able to claim he was in a completely different floor of Trump Tower…?  So many enticing possibilities.

  29. Greenhouse says:

    “Checkmate honey, beat ya at your own damn game
    No dice honey, I’m livin’ on the astral plane
    Feet’s on the ground, and your head’s goin’ down the drain
    Oh, heads I win, tails you lose, to the never mind
    Where to draw the line”

  30. oldoilfieldhand says:

    Thank you Robert Mueller and all of the dedicated and patriotic professional Americans working with you!
    Thank you Marcy for telling it like it is! It’s 5:00 somewhere,,,

  31. LowdenF23c says:

    A commenter above stated that the plea agreement required Manafort to turn over documents.  Is that just a pro forma thing with these types of agreements, or are there *really* some documents that Mueller doesn’t have? What docs of importance wouldn’t they have (he said, intrigued).

    • Trip says:

      In my wildest dreams, it would be documents which prove that appointing Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court was a conspiracy to obstruct justice.

      • maybe ryan says:

        You mean like when Brett Kavanaugh loaned Gates his credit card to buy Yankees season tickets next to the Manafort box?

        (Seriously, to secure his loan, Manafort told FSB his $200K credit card debt wasn’t really his debt, that the Yankees tickets purchased with his card were for Gates.   While Kavanaugh’s “$60-200K” credit card debt was explained as Nationals tix.   Every Trump scandal includes a fishy story about baseball tix.  Eventually, like Capone and tax evasion, they’re all going to serve hard time for scalping.)

        • Trip says:

          Haha, that’s funny.

          No, in my dreams there is hard evidence of communications that demonstrate that the fix would be in for Trump if Kavanaugh was selected. I mean, we all know why he was chosen, specifically. There are plenty of other hard right libertarian christofascist judges who could do as much damage, but Kavanaugh provides more power to Trump, and a possible escape hatch.

          • Tracy says:

            Hmm – possible??… I wish we could have been in “The Room Where it Happened” when T interviewed K in NJ (I was assuming they were alone together?…)

  32. Oilyphants says:

    It would appear that manafort was also doing undercover work for Mueller if you read “Section 8 Cooperation subsection B” of the Plea Deal they reference potential undercover work which I imagine they wouldn’t reveal if it hadnt already happened as it would expose Manafort.

  33. Rapier says:

    I admit I spent a half a minute considering a plea deal without cooperation was possible. In which case I was thinking maybe that QAnon thing wasn’t all wrong.


  34. Trip says:

    Any chance that this agreement actually happened much earlier (but not formally signed)? The reason I ask is because it states that Manafort would do work undercover if prompted by the gov’t. No way he’d be able to that from this point going forward; the cat’s out of the bag. Is it possible that he decided to go this route back when there were the (sealed sidebar) discussions (which BOTH sides wanted sealed) during the first trial? Or is that part simply boilerplate?

  35. alaura says:

    Thank you Marcy! Should we look for you on DemocracyNow on Monday?
    My bet is trump next incriminates one of his spawn-advisors in a 3AM tweet storm.

  36. Ben says:

    commenter at LI said the term ‘cooperation’ includes pleading guilty and that cooperation is a broader term referencing sentencing guidelines, not necessarily meaning a rat. Is this accurate?

  37. Jenny says:

    Marcy, thank you for being SPOT ON!!! I appreciate you putting together the puzzle pieces. Of course, more to be revealed …

  38. Kick the darkness says:

    After 8f

    Your client acknowledges and understands…will be interviewed by law enforcement….waives any right to have counsel present during these interviews. 

    Would that be typical for a cooperation agreement?

  39. CarlosFM says:

    In case it has not be noticed yet the cooperation agreement Manafort signed today, as reported by The Hill, states that Manafort had a proffer agreement with the government dated September 11.  The cooperation agreement doesn’t state what information Manafort offered the government in that agreement, only that the government’s promises in today’s cooperation agreement supersede anything that was promised on September 11.  So, Manafort has been cooperating since Tuesday.

  40. viget says:


    Also looking at bmaz’s thread on twitter… can the gov’t keep Paulie locked up until all cooperation is completed (e.g. testimony at trial(s) in the future)?  Then I wonder if the ultimate goal as per bmaz’s take, is for a 5K1 motion to limit sentence(s) to time served plus probation plus forfeiture?

    But if this was the plan, how was the forfeiture ever part of the bargain (since he basically has to forfeit everything now) ?  Did they have him dead to rights on other crimes that would essentially put him away for life?  Or was it (as has been postulated here) about not charging his wife in exchange for cooperation?

    I guess another part of the deal could be if Paulie fully cooperates all the way through trial, that DOJ could decide to abandon certain civil forfeiture proceedings so that he at least has SOMETHING left at the end?

    On a related note: if Manfort is ever released, where do you think he goes for protection from Russia?

    • Rapier says:

      This is America. Things aren’t done that  way here.

      If Putin is half as smart as everyone thinks then he knew this cast of money grubbing clowns, both sides,  would eventually go down.  Better relations with Russia are a lost cause here on any near term.  To think some winks and nods and meetings  would change anything would have been truly stupid. That is always a possibility of course.

      (One can only imagine what the Russian intelligence communities assessment of Trump and his personality is. To have a printed summary in hand would be quite a thing)

  41. Rapier says:

    This is America. Things aren’t done that  way here.

    If Putin is half as smart as everyone thinks then he knew this cast of money grubbing clowns, both sides,  would eventually go down.  Better relations with Russia are a lost cause here on any near term.  To think some winks and nods and meetings  would change anything would have been truly stupid. That is always a possibility of course.

    (One can only imagine what the Russian intelligence communities assessment of Trump and his personality is. To have a printed summary in hand would be quite a thing)

  42. Perrisq says:

    Hey Marcy, perris here, (sure wish I could join)

    I’ve speculated for a while, Manafort wasn’t looking for a pardon, that would force testimony, I thought he was afraid of assinatioin

    I thought Mueller would have to give some kind of promise of witness protection, this might be where some of that seizure is going if that’s actually happened.

    In my mind, Manafort is now a target, he has to look over his shoulder for the rest of his life

    • Bob Conyers says:

      If Russia really wanted him dead, the time to do it would have been after the election when they knew the FBI was sniffing around Flynn and others, but before the FBI had gotten to Manafort. But quite frankly I think the Russians know that the cost of killing Manafort would not be worth it.

      Manafort may spill the beans on some embarassing dealings with Russians, but I think any additional info he might provide beyond what was already seized during raids won’t have a lot of effect on the Russians. They have no doubt sealed off as much as they can — they have probably figured out most of what Manafort could tell Mueller a long time ago. I’m also going to guess at this point Mueller and the US intelligence community knows what went down, Mueller just needs proof that will stand up in court.

      So what would the Russians gain if Manafort was killed in his cell? It probably would not save Trump, and I’m not sure they want to save him anyway. And killing a major American figure is bad PR that hurts the ability of Rand Paul and other useful idiots to give them access to the GOP. They’re better off moving on, fanning the flames of the power struggle that will happen when he’s gone, whether it’s 2021 or sooner.

      • Perris says:

        Good points Bob, still, I don’t think putin keeps still if Manafort brings Trump down

        Possibly, Putting gave Manafort the go ahead?

        Dunno, but it is peculiar the plea mentions him wanting to protect his family

  43. Perris says:

    I think my comment got filtered since I posted a link, will try no link.

    I’ve speculated the reason Manafort wasn’t dealing, he feared assassination, Putin’s enemies seem disappeared.

    There’s a chance in my mind, some of that 46 mil is earmarked in witness protection, the plea actually mentions he was looking for security for family

    [Your initial post was likely filtered because of the embedded link. Please be sure to use the same name for each visit, thank you. Welcome to emptywheel. /~Rayne]

      • Trip says:

        Can’t edit: I can’t imagine how far this privilege could possibly extend to some purported 37 people. All of them waiving conflict of interest, to go down with the ship as one?

        • Tracy says:

          Complicated! Let us in on it when y’all figure it out. :-)

          And do we know that Paulie has now left the JDA for sure?

          And John Dowd is writing to everyone in it to say: Manafort has nothing – Why, to keep them in it? Why does he care, why does he have anything to do w/ anything anymore – even if he started the JDA, he’s gone now, right?

  44. maybe ryan says:

    Pondering the Manafort Exhibits.

    I know this is secondary to the focus on now and on Trump, but I am interested in the crimes and connections already revealed, and am wondering about this list of names and initials related to Manafort’s Ukrainian effort. Does anyone know who all these people are:

    Observer Group
    Overall – PJM/AK/Kozhara
    Europe – Ina/Rob/ FH/BM/FBC
    US – RG/Podesta/Weber
    Ukr – KK/EL/OV
    Legal – EL, YM, CEC lawyer, others?

    My thoughts:
    PJM is obviously Manafort. RG almost certainly Rick Gates. Is AK former Polish PM Aleksandr Kwasniewski (but Prodi from the “Habsburg group” isn’t noted.) Is KK Konstantin Kilimnikov? Kozhara has to be then Ukrainian Foreign Minister Leonid.

    Honestly, it first caught my eye because I jumped at the idea that RG was Rudy Giuliani. But that’s not really likely given Gates’s role with Manafort. But I’m still wondering who all these people are and whether their participation was legal and aboveboard.

  45. Worried says:

    Less Worried, now

    Disclaimer: on September 14 I received information that lead me to believe that the Trump house of cards may be starting to fall. If, by chance my “sock puppet” name in the future should change, it can be directly attributed to that.

    Thanks Marcy (and gang) for taking the long, and thorough, road.

    Not sure, but anticipate radical action can be expected from #45.

  46. Sabrina says:

    Just wanted to chime in from the North to express my gratitude for the incredible competence of the Mueller team, and thank Marcy for her reporting. The more I read, the more hopeful I feel that there is something concrete here that Trump, with his large JDA and network of contacts, may not be able to get ahead of.

    As an aside, the dominoes seem to be falling quickly now. I wonder if that’s a reflection of the long play strategy by Mueller, or if the Rs are feeling like Trump is increasingly destroying American trust in their party for the next century and have decided to poke holes in his strategy, or a combination of both. Whatever the case is, it does seem curious that there’s fallout politically (the Op-Ed, etc.), and at the same time, the house of cards is collapsing legally.

    I hope to God this is the beginning of the end, or at least the watershed moment where Trump’s defense was irrevocably destroyed. If this were Shakespeare, we’ve just transitioned to the 4th act, and I, for one, couldn’t be happier to see this happen. Time for order and kindness to be restored in the US, and maybe our countries can be (political) friends again in the near future.

  47. Wm. Boyce says:

    A little off-topic, but I heard a radio interview w/Craig Unger today about his new book concerning the creature’s history w/the Russians. After hearing him explain that, essentially, the Russian mafia, intelligence services, and the government are all the same entity, I’m even more grateful that some of what’s left of our justice system seems to have made real headway in exposing this criminal gang running our country.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Horses would be well out of the barn by then.  The DoJ will already have a useful record of what Manafort has to divulge.  They are probably working overtime to get more of it, plus any hard copy or digital records that might substantiate it.  That would be in case the Don ignores his advisers (who could have predicted?) and issues a pardon anyway.

      To the extent a federal pardon removes his criminal jeopardy, Manafort could be compelled to testify, on pain of spending further time in jail for contempt.  EW and bmaz have discussed this at length.

      It would be pointless for Trump to pull a Libby and commute Manafort’s sentence.  He is already cooperating and that cooperation is being coordinated with state AGs, who could press overlapping criminal charges if Trump upsets the federal applecart.  Then there are the federal civil forfeiture proceedings, which are immune from pardon and keep Paulie over a barrel.

      As even the Don’s lawyers know, pardoning a guy who could implicate the president in multiple felonies – campaign related and not,  meeting the colloquial definition of aiding and abetting a foreign power or not – would be straight up obstruction of justice.

      Yes, the president’s pardon power is plenary, but it can still be used for an unlawful purpose.  One of the few senior lawyers who count, who might disagree with that would be Brett Kavanaugh.  Dots.  Connect.

  48. Bradentucky Bombers says:

    This is a great day for the rule of law and the USA!

    Thank you EW! Thank you Bob Mueller and OSC!!

    My tiny bit of faith has been renewed.

  49. Trip says:

    I can’t wait for the translation on the more obscure references, like Illici and Active sponsors of RNC:

    • Bill browder
    • Offshore — Cyprus
    • Companies
    • Not invest — loan
    • Value in Cyprus as inter
    • Illici
    • Active sponsors of RNC
    • Browder hired Joanna Glover
    • Tied into Cheney
    • Russian adoption by American families

  50. McMurphy says:

    (this is my first post, and it’s pretty intimidating with all the high level conversation that goes on here)

    I’ve been following this investigation from the UK as closely as I can, primarily through this blog, but with zero legal expertise with the fascination of finding out how the sausage is made and how thoroughly broken political lobbying is.

    I find out plenty from listening and reading broader strokes viewpoints from various journalists and commentators, but it’s a bizarre feeling listening to podcasts by purported experts that ask questions that the blog here has answered with bullet pointed evidence. For example, listening to people talk about the Manafort plea and the reasons why he has held on so long and whether a pardon would affect co-operation or return the money, and I’m listening to purported experts pontificate, but having clearly not read the plea in the detail you have.

    It’s incredibly tenacious and compelling journalism, and thank you.

    I wish that someone was doing this work on the Brexit mess in the UK.

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