By KENNETH DEL VECCHIO
There are three possibilities regarding what may be brewing through Paul Manafort’s guilty plea, the second of which rarely, if ever, has been conjectured. The third hypothesis definitively has not been opined; at least a comprehensive media search has not revealed such a theory.
Most pundits and politicos think that Manafort has pled out because he believes that a pardon from Trump will not be occurring for one of a variety of reasons. Therefore, he has decided to provide all of the information he has related to Trump and any others who the special counsel, Robert Mueller, considers “more important” than Manafort (the list of who could be considered “more important” to Mueller would be very small, but perhaps included people like Trump’s kids and son-in-law).
In a rather distasteful pecking order type of activity, the special counsel may be trying to obtain evidence regarding the Trump kin, that would purportedly amount to a crime, as an effort to get Trump to finally cave on his own. In other words, given that it appears quite clear that the special counsel investigation has reached a dead end against Trump directly (although the same is not certain because the public may not know all that he has amassed), if Manafort delivers information that affirmatively supports a crime(s) committed by a Trump family member, then Trump, as a father, would step in and take the heat rather than see his children be prosecuted.
Remember, some of the Trump children and Jared Kushner, his son-in-law, attended interviews with the special counsel. If Manafort delivers information that shows that one of the children lied during an interview, such individual could be prosecuted under that notorious fallback charge of lying to federal investigators. Prosecuting people under this statute is considered an unsavory practice by many but, nonetheless, it is often used by federal law enforcement when they do not have any substantive offense with which to charge a target. The question is what information could Manafort deliver that contradicts statements that a Trump family member made to federal investigators.
One such potential can arise under the facts surrounding the Trump Tower meeting among Manafort, Donald Trump, Jr, Kushner, and a Russian lawyer. All available information leads any qualified and genuine legal mind to conclude that there was absolutely nothing unlawful about that meeting; however, if Manafort simply provides proof that a statement made by Donald Trump Jr or Kushner about anything pertaining to that meeting (no matter how immaterial it may be and regardless of the legality of the meeting) was false, the special counsel could file a criminal complaint for lying to federal investigators. Of course, it is speculative, at best, whether Manafort has such evidence against one of the kids. But the same may be an avenue that Mueller plans to travel with Manafort.
The alternate route is that Mueller is seeking to generate evidence of illegal acts directly perpetrated by President Trump. The special counsel investigation was chartered for the sole purpose of determining whether the Trump campaign engaged in illegal collusion with Russians during the 2016 presidential campaign. Once again, the public isn’t necessarily in receipt of all the evidence gathered by the special counsel investigation, but it appears highly unlikely that they have proofs that any illegal collusion occurred by any American, including Trump. The legal reality that “collusion”, in of itself, is not a crime – and the great likelihood that the special counsel investigation has resulted in no evidence of illegal collusion with Russians – are thoroughly explained in the following recent ESN articles: (1) Time to End Special Counsel Investigation That Never Should Have Begun in First Place; (2) The Propaganda That Collusion is a Crime is a Result of the Far Left’s Abandonment of Civil Liberties; and (3) Common Sense Dictates That Russians Have Attempted to Interfere With Elections, But Far Left’s Propaganda is Disingenuous & Dangerous. And the other far reaching prosecutorial quests that are unrelated to alleged Russian collusion are examined in other recent ESN articles, such as Michael Cohen’s Guilty Plea for Illegal Campaign Contributions was a Plea to a Non-Criminal Act By a Non-Credible Actor. These articles detail how all roads lead to no crimes by Donald Trump. Given these factors, it is highly improbable that Manafort has any information to offer that links Trump to an unlawful act of collusion with Russians (or other crimes), as such misconduct simply appears to be the null set.
What no one is saying, however, is a credible hypothesis predicated upon the following: perhaps Robert Mueller is just handling his job in the appropriate manner, by carrying out the true duties of a prosecutor. A prosecutor’s role is to seek justice. In many cases, seeking justice by a prosecutor means that he fervently prosecutes a case after he has obtained enough evidence to prove a case behind a reasonable doubt. However, in a number of matters, seeking justice means that the prosecutor, by his own decision, must determine not to prosecute a person(s) – because, via his investigation, he has concluded that he cannot prove a crime beyond a reasonable doubt.
Paul Manafort is required to fully cooperate with the special counsel and provide truthful testimony. It is possible that Mueller is equally looking to see if Manafort provides evidence that exculpates Trump and others. Mueller may be nearing the end of his investigation and, under all circumstances, he looks at Manafort as an individual who can deliver key information – material that may prove that crime(s) have occurred and material that may dispel that criminal activity existed. It just may be that Mueller is conducting himself by the ethical mandates of his position, and is on a hunt for justice. He may be looking at Manafort as that final key witness (or one of the final few), who confirms an already-brewing conclusion that neither Trump nor anyone in his campaign engaged in illegal collusion with Russians during the 2016 presidential election. After all, Manafort is definitively the highest-ranking member of the campaign who had substantial ties with powerful Russians, and his truthful testimony may very well cement the finding that prosecutions of Trump et al under a Russian conspiracy theory would be unjust.
The final theory for Manafort’s sudden guilty plea? Maybe, just maybe, as per the above, he has no damaging evidence against Trump, his family or any participants of the Trump campaign. And he wants to prove this to the president – and the American public.
Following this path, he fully cooperates with the special counsel and provides truthful testimony, which does not inculpate Trump or any ally – and which further debunks any purported offense of unlawful Russian collusion. Given that he has put all on the line – by adding a guilty plea to his guilty verdict, thereby facing substantial incarceration – Manafort would show all of America, including the president, where he really stands and what he really knows. If he tells, thorough his cooperation, nothing damaging about Trump and company, and he is finally sentenced, then the Manafort saga is over for himself, Trump, and all of America. And this could trigger an immediate pardon for him. Now that just might be a better gambling path for Manafort than enduring another trial – and leaving open speculation as to where he stands.
Kenneth Del Vecchio is the author of some of the nation’s best-selling legal books, including a series of criminal codebooks published by Pearson Education/Prentice Hall and ALM/New Jersey & New York Law Journal Books. He is a former judge, a former prosecutor and a practicing criminal/litigating attorney for 24 years, wherein he has tried over 400 cases; he is partner in the prestigious law firm, Stern, Kilcullen & Rufolo.. Mr. Del Vecchio is also an acclaimed filmmaker who has written, produced and directed over 30 movies that star several Academy Award and Emmy winners and nominees. His films are distributed through industry leaders such as Sony Pictures, NBCUniversal, Cinedigm, and E-1 Entertainment. He has starred in numerous movies, as well. A best-selling political thriller novelist, he penned his first published novel at only 24-years old. Additionally, Mr. Del Vecchio is the founder and chairman of Hoboken International Film Festival, called by FOX, Time Warner, and other major media “One of the 10 Biggest Film Festivals in the World.” A regular legal and political analyst on the major news networks, Mr. Del Vecchio formerly served as the publisher and editorial page editor for a New Jersey daily newspaper.
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