U.S. v. Paul J. Manafort, Jr. (1:17-cr-201, District of Columbia)
Paul J. Manafort, Jr., of Alexandria, Va., pleaded guilty today to a superseding criminal information filed today in the District of Columbia, which includes conspiracy against the United States (conspiracy to commit money laundering, tax fraud, failing to file Foreign Bank Account Reports and Violating the Foreign Agents Registration Act, and lying and misrepresenting to the Department of Justice) and conspiracy to obstruct justice (witness tampering). A status report with regard to sentencing was scheduled for Nov. 16, 2018.
For the president, the plea agreement from his former campaign chair is at least a huge blow and potentially disastrous. It had been widely reported that Trump believed Manafort could incriminate him and took great relief from the thought that he would keep his lips sealed.
For starters, Manafort likely knows whether Trump had advance knowledge of the June 2016 meeting set up by Donald Trump Jr. to get dirt on Hillary Clinton, which would expose the president to co-conspirator liability. Manafort likewise was at the center of the manipulation of the Republican platform to favor Russian interests in the Ukraine.
More generally, Manafort’s shamed, mumbled court confession to all Mueller’s charges further makes more untenable Trump’s histrionic shrieks of “witch hunt,” which already had been losing purchase.
Manafort’s cooperation promise also may bode ill for Roger Stone, his former business partner, on whom Mueller already has been turning the vise, and possibly Jared Kushner, who worked closely with Manafort during the campaign and now is a senior adviser to his father-in-law at the White House.