Paul Manafort Seemed Certain Mueller Would Indict Jared Kushner

Amy Berman Jackson just released texts that she used to consider sanctioning Manafort lawyer Kevin Downing for violating her gag order by speaking with Sean Hannity. They include almost a year of remarkably friendly texts between Hannity and Manafort.

There’s a whole lot to unpack in these texts, starting with how certain Manafort was that Mueller would prosecute Jared Kushner. he first raises it shortly after he got raided in summer 2017, just before he complains that “Russia is history now that they have the spec counsel.”

Then Hannity raised it in January 2018, not long before a story revealed that Trump was telling people Manafort could incriminate him.

In March, Hannity asked Manafort why he didn’t get a plea deal like Gates got. Manafort said prosecutors would expect him to give up Kushner, though claimed Kushner hadn’t done anything wrong.

After the search on Michael Cohen, Hannity said it was war. Manafort predicted Mueller would get Jared.

All this happened months before Manafort accepted a plea deal. As part of that, he agreed to cooperate in another DOJ investigation about an effort in August 2016 to save the Trump campaign. As soon as he got the plea deal, however, he changed his story to match the one being told by the target of that other investigation.

Effectively, Manafort was asked some questions in a proffer session before his plea on September 13, in response to which he offered information that implicated someone with a 7-character name. [These dates are in the government’s January 15 filing at 23.] Then, in a debriefing on October 5, he changed his story to make it less incriminating — and to match the story the subject of the investigation was telling to the FBI at the time (last fall). When pressed by his lawyers, Manafort mostly changed his story back to what it had been. But the head fake made Manafort useless as a witness against this person.

Judge Amy Berman Jackson summed up this change this way:

The allegation is that the defendant offered a version of events that downplayed [redacted; “the President’s” or “the Candidate”s might fit] role and/or his knowledge. Specifically, his knowledge of any prior involvement of the [16-17 character redaction] that was inconsistent with and less incriminating of [7 character redaction] than what he had already said during the proffer stage and now consistent with what Mr. [7 character redaction] himself was telling the FBI.

This investigation pertains to events that happened “prior to [Manafort] leaving the campaign (on August 19).” [January 15 filing at 26]

As Andrew Weissman described in the breach hearing, Manafort’s version of the story first came when prosecutors, “were asking questions about an e-mail that Mr. [5 character name] had written about a potential way of saving the candidate. That’s sort of paraphrasing it. And this was a way of explaining, or explaining away that e-mail.” In the Janaury 15 filing, this conversation arises to explain “a series of text messages.” [See 25]

Weissmann describes that the revised story Manafort told was, “quite dramatically different. This is not I forgot something or I need to augment some details of a basic core set of facts.” Manafort’s original story involved Mr. [7 character redaction] providing information about a [redacted] who was doing something. Manafort appears to have made a representation about what Mr. [7 character name] believed about that (likely important to proving intent).

But in the second session, Manafort appears to have shifted the blame, implicating Mr. [5 character name] whom, “Mr. Manafort had previously said, I did not want to be involved in this at all,” but leaving out what Mr. [7 character name] had said. Manafort’s testimony effectively left out that when Mr. [5 character name] had called previously, Manafort had said, “I’m on it, don’t get involved.”

It appears that Manafort had something very specific in mind in which he could implicate Jared.

Update: On second read, it’s clear why ABJ released these: it has taken that much time to get the two parties to weigh in. First, the government weighed sometime before May 17. It took until sometime this month for Manafort’s team to respond to ABJ’s order to decide whether it can be released. Which is why it is only now being released. Note that there’s a second set of communications that she has withheld, as it is grand jury material related to an ongoing matter.

As I disclosed last 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. 

40 replies
  1. Self Absorbed says:

    The 5 letter name has to be Stone right? It reads to me like it’s about Wikileaks. I feel like we had heard somewhere that Manafort told Stone he didn’t want him involved in the campaign but I might be making that up.

    Moderators** I tried to use the same screen name but I don’t know if I did, and I apologize if it’s not the same. I don’t comment often, just lurk like a creep

    • emptywheel says:

      No. It’s another DOJ investigation so not Mueller. I think it might be PsyGroup, in which case the 5 letter name is likely to be Gates.

      • Savage Librarian says:

        Hi, Marcy. In a previous post (noted below) you mention that Gates name would not have been redacted if his was the 5 character name. So, I’m confused as to why you have changed your opinion. Is it because it is another case and/or in another district?

        What We Know about the “Other” Investigation about which Paul Manafort Lied
        emptywheel – 2/10/19

        (paragraph just before Update)
        “Given the timing, it might involve the PsyGroup offer, but with Jared Kushner rather than Don Jr playing the starring role. That would mean that offer of foreign assistance investigation would have been moved to another district, possibly SDNY like the rest of things. Rick Gates was in the loop on that, but they wouldn’t have redacted his name if he were the 5-character named person involved.”

  2. Eureka says:

    Nothing, just like I did nothing

    Got it, Paulie.

    Even when these two are trying to keep to RWNJ-character-speak, they still spill.

  3. vicks says:

    “russia is history now that they have the spec counsel”
    At face value it’s sounds like Manafort is saying that the special counsel is getting in the way of current and/or future opportunities with Russia,
    Can anyone tell me what I am missing? I’m feeling a bit pukey imagining there could have been even bigger plans in the works and even when I squint and assume Manafort is a sloppy texter I can’t come up with much in the way of an alternative translation.

    • Rapier says:

      Any significant change of policy towards Russia was still birthed. Nothing was going to end the sanctions short of leaving Crimea and totally abandoning the rump republics of the East and allow Kiev to move it’s troops right up to the Russian border. (eventually because their armed forces are pathetic), and that’s at a minimum. The entire US military, intelligence and political world are determined to crush Russia. It’s in our genes now.

      What is lost in all this was that in the Summer of 16 Russia had committed air power to Syria which turned the tide against the ‘revolution’. Quotes because most of the ‘revolutionaries’ were non Syrians paid for by the Saudis, Qtar, UAE, ,and us) In response 50 diplomats, Hillary diplomats essentially, signed an open letter in the NY Times demanding a no fly zone over Syria. Which would have meant, if Russia did not stand down, limited war with Russia which could have gone nuclear. Obama didn’t bite. By that time the Russian pro Trump machine was in motion and just kept humming along but any concrete gains for Russia or reproachmont were not going to happen and didn’t.

      The alternate theory of Russia’s involvement was simply to divide and weaken America by having crypto fascist fruitcake Trump win, and so it came to pass.

      To this day Trump nor anyone around him has offered any strategic vision of the US vis a vis Russia. Nada. Zilch. Just a bunch of grifters doing deals to make a buck for themselves. Well that and Trump actually likes Slavs. He married one. Most Americans truth be told are prejudiced against Slavs.

      • Desider says:

        Uh, most Americans are prejudiced against Bulgarians, Croatians, Slovenians, Czechs (Havel?), Slovaks, Ukrainians?
        Let’s try “Americans are prejudiced against Russia because of Stalin & 70 years of the Soviet Union, Solzhenitsyn’s book, and Putin’s excesses in Chechnya, Syria and of course 2016 election (and its overall export and reliance on oligarchs). Americans may be a bit prejudiced against Poles because of their time as an immigrant workforce. Americans are prejudiced against Serbs because of war crimes against Croats, Bosnians and Albanians under Milosevic (though they probably underestimate Croat war crimes).
        PS – Gerry Kasparov remains admired, as does Pussy Riot.

      • Rayne says:

        This: “Most Americans truth be told are prejudiced against Slavs” I think is bunk. Most Americans couldn’t name someone of Slavic extraction unless they were a family member. You’d have to tell an American that persons of Slavic heritage were Polish, Czech, Slovak, Sorbian, Bulgarian, Serbian, Croatian, Macedonian, Slovene, Russian, Ukrainian, and Belorussian — and then maybe they’d have a beef with some one person they knew who was one of these.

        Can’t swing a dead cat in my neighborhood without hitting a brother of the Knights of Kościuszko around here; we all pile into Pulaski Hall every Lenten season for fish fry. Watch yourself when the annual Fat Tuesday pączki hit the bakery. Can’t even imagine what it would be like to live in a Slav-free part of my state.

        There are some important reasons why there are so many Americans of Slavic heritage, though. Not all of them have forgotten why they ended up here instead of in a former Soviet satellite state.

        • P J Evans says:

          There are a lot of people in California who came from places like Serbia. (I grew up in a town were a lot of people were from that area: Preftokis, Mihovich, Milochik, names like that. This was in the 60s. I don’t remember anything like prejudice against them.)

      • Democritus says:

        I would have HUGE quibbles with this statement, Trump wouldn’t be President if this was the case.

        “The entire US military, intelligence and political world are determined to crush Russia. It’s in our genes now.”

        If Institutional DC hated Russia so much Trump would not be President. Someone in the Intel community could have leaked about the Trump Russia investigation and that would have been enough to sink the election.

        It is why the GOP argument about a FBI conspiracy against Trump is so weak. All the had to do was leak the investigation, and I think Trump and his allies are still worried that some of the gathered intel may leak which may be part of why Pompeo is launching his intel review to try to scare people into silence in the next election. Though Ive also read that some are worried that the intel will get back to foreign countries, accidentally or not.

        I can’t believe that is even a serious consideration, but it obviously has to be.

        Furthermore I doubt most Americans even know what a Slav is, let alone has animus against them. Maybe some who playedGTA4 could connect a couple dots, but even then I doubt it.

        • vicks says:

          I agree with all and will add that I am still waiting for someone to tell the save the trump folks that if they are seriously going use this alternate conspiracy as their defensive strategy it needs a lot of work before it can be presented to thinking people.
          For starters, things are complicated even BEFORE they take a pass on the opportunity to leak, for the deep state angle to have any traction they first have to erase from our memories the fact that NO ONE thought Trump had a chance of winning.
          In the bubble they already are convinced “HILLARY!!” can bend time, perhaps in the final version everyone in the Secret Society has a super power?

  4. MattyG says:

    Kushner was in charge of the digital campaign – Manafort would have been involved with Jared as the conduit between Cambridge Analytica/Psygroup campaign analytics and the Russian cut-outs? He clammed up when a pardon was dangled.

  5. Erica says:

    This is very, very strange. Why wouldn’t Mueller indict Kushner? They had enough to get an indictment for Trump Jr and Kushner but he choose not to indict? . Im thinking either Barr made them end the investigation or the FBI, is still investigating. I believe their is a FISA on Jared and Don Jr . I believe The Intelligence Community know they, Kushner, Don Jr. &SR are compromised and realizes this is a major national security problem. Does anyone else thinks there is a FISA warrant on Kushner and Don Jr.?

    • Troutwaxer says:

      If you know someone is a conduit to the other side, sometimes you arrest them and sometimes you monitor them because of the intelligence insights it gives you.

    • fikshun says:

      If the logic for the DOJ policy of not indicting a sitting president is rooted in the belief that the country’s executive branch must be fully operational at all times, then my guess is that the policy would also reasonably apply to the president’s cabinet and advisors as well. Practically, given Trump’s temperament, I would imagine that going after his son-in-law would also likely impair the functioning of the executive branch … well, more so than it already is. I wonder if there was also a consideration about what additional cards (if any) the SCO would have to show if they indicted Kushner.

      • bmaz says:

        Baloney. It goes to the Executive, i.e. the President himself only. Even the Vice President is not immune, as the case of Spiro Agnew demonstrated. There was no problem with indicting Agnew, he knew it, and he copped a plea on the eve of being indicted. If the VP can be indicted and/or charged, so can any cabinet member or a stooge like Kushner.

        • P J Evans says:

          Most of the appointees in this maladministration deserve indictment. Too bad the current AG is one of them.

          • bmaz says:

            Agreed. I also neglected to mention Clinton’s HUD Secretary, Henry Cisneros, who was indicted on 18 counts by DOJ. It was a bogus case and he pled to a lousy misdemeanor. But it was a major indictment of a cabinet member, albeit it after he had resigned.

            • fikshun says:

              Right, but the DOJ policy was written specifically because of the Spiro Agnew situation. They could have written it either way, depending on who they wanted to indict: either 1) a sitting president president CAN’T be indicted because the executive branch must be able to function at all times but because of that, the vice president, who has few official duties, can be indicted … or 2) a sitting president CAN be indicted because there is a vice president — who can’t be indicted — waiting in the wings and ready to take over at a moment’s notice, so the executive branch will be able to function at all times.

              • bmaz says:

                I am not understanding why you think that holds for common cabinet members, especially after the Clinton Administration attacks. So, I don’t think so.

    • P J Evans says:

      There’s a lot of stuff blacked out in Mueller’s report because of “harm to ongoing matter”.

  6. earlofhuntingdon says:

    This is the party of civility. Former Trump administration “communications director,” Jason Miller, commenting on the chair of the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. Jerrold Nadler:

    You’re fat and nasty. Don’t harass Hope and then try to play nice. You’re gross, you fat fuck.


  7. Willis Warren says:

    “What do I think plan is for JK?”

    Jesus, this is pretty amazing stuff. He’s basically telling Hannity what to say on TV. There’s no way Hannity should survive this, legally or professionally

    • Rayne says:

      Except that Fox News’ ownership wants exactly what Hannity is doing and enough of the American public continues to watch his bullshit to keep him on the air.

      Do not lose sight of the fact Fox News has been undergoing a generational shift from Rupert’s direction to that of his son Lachlan — and Lachlan is even more malignant than Rupert, having learned the worst lessons from his father.

    • Vicks says:

      As they say “the optics” on this are terrible.
      Fox gave some lame-o official comment when Hannity was on the stage with Trump at a rally. Let’s see if they are going to up it a slap on the hands for this one.

  8. earlofhuntingdon says:

    At least one DoJ lawyer is pushing back on the criticism of Sarah Fabian for arguing against giving imprisoned migrant children soap, tooth brushes, blankets, and a safe place to sleep. She is just a lawyer arguing zealously for what her client wants, say her defenders, something supposedly all clients want and all lawyers do. []

    Richard Nixon (and today’s CEOs) had similar standards. Nixon ordered his Attorney General, Elliot Richardson, to fire Watergate independent special prosecutor Archibald Cox. Unlike Ms. Fabian, the Attorney General resigned rather than do it. So, too, did Deputy Attorney General, William Ruckelshaus. The DoJ’s number three, Solicitor General Robert Bork had no such qualms. He fired Cox. Two weeks later, Nixon chose to resign.


    Per the darling of the conservative movement, Englishman Edmund Burke: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men [and women] should do nothing.”

    • Savage Librarian says:

      About that quote attributed to Burke:

      “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” Attributed to Edmund Burke, including by John F Kennedy in a speech in 1961. Burke didn’t say it, and its earliest form was by John Stuart Mill, who said in 1867: “Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing.”

      And there is also this:

      “Throughout history, it has been the inaction of those who could have acted; the indifference of those who should have known better; the silence of the voice of justice when it mattered most; that has made it possible for evil to triumph.”
      Haile Selassie

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      JFK attributed the quote to Burke. But you’re right, the original source is debatable, like many observations of social behavior. Burke, Bentham and others made similar observations about political apathy, which is the enemy of good government and social welfare.

  9. earlofhuntingdon says:

    I wonder at Trump’s dismal career. Fraud piled upon fraud. An endless succession of victims churned up behind him like a ship’s wake. Somehow cutting the web of consequence that ensnares and stops most bad men in time like a hull through blue water.

    Southpaw’s reflections are poetic. I’m less sanguine, though, about his “web of consequence that ensnares and stops most bad men.” From Citibank and Deutsche Bank to Steve Bannon and Stephen Miller, from Joe Arpaio and James Eastland to Roger Ailes and the Koch brothers, we have examples aplenty of bad men who are rarely stopped. []

    • J R in WV says:

      You are in general correct, as far as prison time goes. Yet all these folk you mention are known to upright liberals as despicable scum upon a sewage treatment pond, and will never receive honors from any of us. Including those banks, and Wells Fargo which you didn’t mention.

      And Deutsche Bank looks to be going down soon. And Roger Ailes is dead!

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Your casual optimism is charming. It will have no effect.

      DB is exemplary. It will pay another mega-fine and stay in business, with no change in its business model or leadership. Lachlan Murdoch doesn’t give a shit about whether “any of us” shower him with laurels. But he would care if progressive Dems took the White House and the Senate.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        The poet might have had someone like Ailes in mind when he has Marc Antony say of the dead Caesar, “The evil that men do lives after them; The good is often interred with their bones.”

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