Paul Manafort Pleads Guilty, Will Cooperate With Mueller

Another day, another plea agreement in the Mueller investigation. This one could prove to be problematic for the President.

Paul Manafort, Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman, has plead guilty to a number of charges and admitted guilt to a number of others in connection with the charges pending against him in Federal Courts in Virginia and Washington, D.C. and is apparently agreeing to cooperate with the investigation of Special Counsel Robert Mueller into Russian interference in the 2016 Presidential campaign and the Trump campaign:

WASHINGTON — Paul Manafort, President Trump’s former campaign chairman, agreed on Friday to cooperate with the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, as part of a deal in which he pleaded guilty to reduced charges.

Appearing in United States District Court in Washington, Mr. Manafort entered guilty pleas on two charges. Andrew Weissmann, the lead prosecutor, told Judge Amy Berman Jackson that there was a cooperation agreement with Mr. Manafort.

It was not immediately clear what information he might be providing to prosecutors or how the plea agreement might affect Mr. Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and related questions about possible collusion by the Trump campaign and obstruction of justice by Mr. Trump.

The president’s personal lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani, quickly sought to distance Mr. Trump from the development.

“Once again an investigation has concluded with a plea having nothing to do with President Trump or the Trump campaign,” he said in a statement. “The reason: the president did nothing wrong and Paul Manafort will tell the truth.”

As part of the deal, the government will seize four of Mr. Manafort’s homes as well as the money in a number of bank accounts, the documents say.

In documents filed with the United States District Court in Washington, prosecutors from Mr. Mueller’s office charged Mr. Manafort with one count of conspiracy and one count of conspiracy to obstruct justice. Mr. Manafort pleaded guilty to those charges.

The prosecutors dropped five other charges encompassing money laundering and violations of a lobbying disclosure law.

Mr. Manafort was convicted last month on bank and tax fraud charges after a trial in federal court in Alexandria, Va. He was scheduled to face a second trial on seven separate but related charges in Washington starting next week. The charges stem from work he did as a political consultant in Ukraine.

The plea deal is another unsettling development for Mr. Trump. For months, Mr. Trump has praised Mr. Manafort for fighting the charges. In private discussions with his lawyers, Mr. Trump has raised the possibility of pardoning Mr. Manafort.

More from The Washington Post:

President Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort is pleading guilty Friday to two criminal charges under terms of a plea deal that includes his cooperation as a potential witness for special counsel Robert S. Mueller III.

The decision by Manafort to provide evidence in exchange for leniency on sentencing is a stunning development in the long-running probe into whether any Trump associates may have conspired with Russia to influence the 2016 election.

Manafort’s defenders have long insisted that he would not cooperate with Mueller, and didn’t know any incriminating information against the president.

Prosecutor Andrew Weissmann said at the beginning of Friday’s plea hearing that Manafort has agreed to cooperate with investigators.

Speaking at the hearing before U.S. District Court judge Amy Berman Jackson, Weissmann said the 17-page plea document included the terms of Manafort’s expected cooperation.

Weissmann gave a detailed, 40-minute description of the criminal conduct in the Manafort case.

“I believe it’s fair to say that’s probably the longest and most detailed summary that ever preceded this question, but is what the prosecutor said a true and accurate description of what you did in this case,” Jackson asked Manafort.

“I did. It is,” Manafort, said, resting both hands on the lectern before him and flanked by his attorney, Richard Westling.

The deal will short-circuit Manafort’s trial scheduled for later this month.

(…)

A criminal information — a legal document filed by prosecutors to detail the criminal conduct to be admitted by the defendant — was filed in advance of the plea. The document shows Manafort intends to plead guilty to two crimes of the seven he faced at trial: conspiring to defraud the United States and conspiring to obstruct justice.

The document indicates he will admit to funneling millions of dollars in payments into offshore accounts to conceal his income from the Internal Revenue Service. “Manafort cheated the United States out of over $15 million in taxes,” the document states.

The filing also offers new details about the various ways in which Manafort sought to surreptitiously lobby the U.S. government and influence American public opinion toward Ukraine.

In 2012, Manafort set out to help his client, Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych, by tarnishing the reputation of Yanukovych’s political rival, Yulia Tymoshenko, according to the document.

“Manafort stated that ‘[m]y goal is to plant some stink on Tymo’,” according to the document. At the time he made that statement, he was trying to get U.S. news outlets to print stories that Tymoshenko had paid for the murder of a Ukrainian official, according to the criminal information

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 U.S. 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.

As part of his deal, the government plans to seize four properties, including a nearly $2 million house in Arlington, Virginia, owned by one of Manafort’s daughters. The deal also calls for forfeiture of four financial accounts and a life insurance policy.

It was just two days ago, of course, that news outlets were reporting that Manafort was looking to negotiate a plea deal with Mueller and his prosecutors in order to both avoid a trial in the District of Columbia and deal with the charges still facing him in Virginia, including those on which the jury was unable to reach a verdict last month. As I noted at the time, assuming such a deal could be reached the only significant question was whether or not it would include an agreement to cooperate with Mueller in his underlying investigation of Russian interference and the Trump campaign. In the past, Manafort has said through spokespersons and other means that he would never cooperate with Mueller against Trump or any other party, but obviously those considerations have been pushed to the side in light of his conviction last month and the fact that, if convicted of the charges pending in Washington, D.C., he potentially faced a sentence which, when combined with his likely sentence in the Virginia case, would have meant that he would spend the rest of his life in prison. This agreement, on the other hand, appears to include an agreement that would cap his total time in prison at ten years assuming good behavior while in custody and satisfactory combination with the investigation. It is no doubt the case that this, combined with the fact that the mounting legal bills from his defense team were close to becoming overwhelming, is what led Manafort to change his mind.

This plea deal is the end result of a long process during which Mueller was clearly hoping to get the former political operative to talk about what he might know about the subject matter of the Special Counsel’s investigation. First, Manafort’s former close aide Rick Gates flipped and became a cooperating witness against Manafort, a move that ultimately led to him testifying against his former boss in the Virginia trial. After that, Mueller clearly engaged in a strategy that was in at least some sense designed to tighten the screws on Manafort and force him to the negotiating table. These moves included filing new charges against Manafort and a former pro-Russian Ukrainian business partner, and successfully moving to have Manafort’s bail revoked after evidence came to light that Manafort had been improperly contacting potential trial witnesses and potentially seeking to influence their testimony. As the Virginia trial approached, and even while it was going on, there was some reporting that Manafort’s legal team and the Special Counsel’s office were engaged in plea negotiations of some kind. It was never clear how serious these previous reports of plea negotiations were, but obvious the negotiations that have been taking place over the past week or so were far more serious.

From Mueller’s point of view, it was always unclear exactly what he would have gained with a plea deal that did not include a cooperation agreement. As with the Virginia trial, the evidence against Manafort in the Washington case appears to have been solid enough that only a recalcitrant juror would have been able to stop a conviction in the end. With the cooperation agreement, though, Mueller gains a valuable asset that seems guaranteed to keep his investigation going for quite some time. To some extent, the information that Manafort will be able to offer is limited by the fact that Manafort was only affiliated with the Trump campaign for a short period of time and that his involvement ceased prior to the crucial final months of the campaign before Election Day. Despite that, the period during which Manafort was part of the campaign include a time that appears to be of particular interest to Mueller and his investigators. Principally, this includes the time period prior to the Republican National Convention when the Trump campaign was openly looking for damaging information about Hillary Clinton. It was during this time, of course, that the now famous June 2016 meeting took place. Manafort was one of three top-level Trump campaign officials to meet with Russian lawyer named Natalia Veselnitskaya who has ties to the Russian government. The other two participants from the campaign, of course, were Donald Trump Jr. and Jared Kushner, and the meeting had initially been pitched as a meeting about “dirt” regarding Clinton and her campaign. Additionally, Manafort’s ties to pro-Russian Ukrainians and Russian oligarchs could provide further insight into connections between Trump, his business interests, and his campaign, and Russia. Where all that information might lead is unclear, but it seems clear that Paul Manafort is someone that Robert Mueller would be very interested in talking to in great detail.

The full terms of the cooperation agreement between Manafort and the government have yet to be released, but given the generous terms of the plea, it seems likely that it includes full cooperation with Mueller to the extent that his testimony or information that he might provide would be necessary. In that regard, it is worth noting that NPR is reporting that Manafort’s cooperation “does not include matters involving the Trump campaign.” If that’s true, though, then it’s unclear what kind of information, and about whom, Manafort may be able to provide Mueller with that would be relevant to the scope of his investigation. It’s possible, for example, that Manafort may have information about the Russian side of the investigation due to his contacts with pro-Russian interests in Ukraine, or it could mean that he has information regarding people not officially connected to the campaign, such as his former business partner Roger Stone. Notwithstanding the NPR report, it’s worth noting that Manafort’s plea agreement, which I have embedded below, states that he “shall cooperate fully, truthfully, completely, and forthrightly with the Government…in any and all matters as to which the Government deems the cooperation relevant.” This strongly suggests that there is no limitation on the cooperation that Manafort must provide to the Mueller team or any other Justice Department investigation.

In any case, this latest plea is just the latest sign of success on the part of Mueller team and certainly poses potential future problems for the President and his personal legal team. It’s also worth noting that Manafort is the fourth person close to Trump to plead guilty and that the Justice Department is getting closer toward what could be some huge indictments in the future. The first person to plead guilty, of course, was George Papadopoulos, a former foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign who also was apparently the source of the information that caused the F.B.I. to investigate Russian election interference and the Trump campaign’s potential involvement in that area. Earlier this week, Papadopoulos was sentenced to 14 days in jail and fined in connection with his guilty plea. Not long after Papadopoulos’s plea, Mueller obtained a guilty plea from Rick Gates, Manafort’s former right-hand man who worked alongside him on the Trump campaign and continued in that position even after Manafort had left the campaign. This is what led to Gates being the star witness at Manafort’s Virginia trial last month. In December, Mueller obtained a guilty plea and agreement to cooperate from Michael Flynn, the retired Lt. General who was part of Trump’s campaign and became his first National Security Adviser. Finally, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York obtained a guilty plea  thifrom Michael Cohen. That plea agreement apparently did not include a cooperation agreement, although there has been some suggestion that one has been reached but that it remains under seal. In any case, so far four people who were close to Trump’s inner circle during the campaign have plead guilty. At the very least that puts the lie to the President’s claim that the Mueller investigation is a “witch hunt.”

Here’s the Superseding Criminal Information filed this morning by Mueller’s office:

US v Manafort Criminal Info… by on Scribd

Here’s the Plea Agreement:

Manafort Plea Agreement by on Scribd

And here’s the Statement of Offense:

Manafort Statement of Offense by on Scribd

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2016, Crime, Donald Trump, Law and the Courts, Politicians, Russia Investigation, US Politics, ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. OzarkHillbilly says:

    It is no doubt the case that this, combined with the fact that the mounting legal bills from his defense team were close to becoming overwhelming, is what led Manafort to change his mind.

    Well, that and the fact that a pardon from trump would be suicidal for trump (if trump is every bit as guilty as we all think he is).

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  2. OzarkHillbilly says:

    At the very least that puts the lie to the President’s claim that the Mueller investigation is a “witch hunt.”

    Assumes facts not in evidence. Some or all of the guilty and indicted could actually be witches.

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  3. MarkedMan says:

    At the very least that puts the lie to the President’s claim that the Mueller investigation is a “witch hunt.”

    Yeah, you would think that having five campaign officials plead guilty to crimes involving Russia would make in impression. But to that psychiatrically challenges individual known as a Trump supporter this is all just background noise. In fact, I doubt they will miss a beat in proclaiming “witch hunt!” And nothing found. Mental illness has that effect.

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  4. Michael Reynolds says:

    For at least 14 months, since August 2017, I’ve been saying that Trump needed to Pardon (himself and everyone else), Resign, and Flee the country ahead of the state and civil charges.

    1) Pardon yourself and the other members of the Trump Crime Family.
    2) Resign.
    3) Flee the country. I hear the Philippines is nice. Go there. They like two-bit caudillos.

    There is literally no other path that doesn’t just make things worse, #TraitorTrump. Uncle Michael gave you good advice. Run while you can, old man. Ruuuuuun!

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  5. MarkedMan says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    Well, that and the fact that a pardon from trump would be suicidal for trump (if trump is every bit as guilty as we all think he is).

    My first thought was that Manafort and Trump have been at an impasse wrt a pardon: Trump says he’ll certainly pardon him in return for silence, but not until just before he leaves office. Manafort doesn’t trust him.

    So I wonder if this isn’t a way to force Trump’s hand. I would love to hear from our lawyer contingent: does this agreement mean Manafort has already sung? Or could Trump pardon him right now, allowing him to walk away from the deal?

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  6. James Pearce says:

    I only skimmed the Superseding Criminal Information, but it doesn’t seem to mention the Trump campaign at all. Implications?

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  7. Yank says:

    As I always say when bad things happen to Trump, I am just here for Mbunge.

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  8. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @MarkedMan:

    Trump says he’ll certainly pardon him in return for silence, but not until just before he leaves office.

    But that doesn’t protect him. Imagine a newly elected DEM president, given the loaded gun that would be Paul Manafort with out 5th Amendment protections? A pardon was never in a guilty trump’s best interests.

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  9. Neil Hudelson says:

    @James Pearce:

    Does it need to? (Honest question.)

    That is, when a prosecutor is charging, say, a mid-level mafioso with various crimes, do they just list the charges against that person, or do they list them while specifically saying ‘s/he did this because if his relationship with such and such crime family.”?

    If yes, then it might be a bit odd the campaign isn’t mentioned. If not, then I don’t think there are many implications.

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  10. OzarkHillbilly says:
  11. Yank says:

    @Michael Reynolds: I don’t think Presidents can pardoned themselves. Nixon looked into it and was advice not to. Trump’s biggest mistake was firing Comey. The potential FBI investigation under Comey, was never going to be as thoroughly done as an investigation done by a special prosecutor.

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  12. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Neil Hudelson: There is nothing odd about it. I would guess Mueller wants to keep trump’s legal team off balance, not that that is very hard to do considering their client.

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  13. Inhumans99 says:

    This comment thread is not complete until James P stops by to chastise the Left that is going to pump up this story for outrage value.

    I am slow on the uptake, James is already engaged in this thread. I see that since President Trump is not in shackles right this second that he seems to allude that this is a nothing burger…please do not stop being you James, your blissful ignorance is a wondrous sight to behold.

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  14. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Yank:
    It appears to be up in the air legally. It could go to the SCOTUS – which is what Kavanaugh is there for, to get Trump off.

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  15. Michael Reynolds says:

    @James Pearce:
    The charges have zero bearing on what Manafort can be compelled to reveal. He has to reveal anything and everything Mueller asks him, and he can’t even write a book or give a speech to raise money.

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  16. MarkedMan says:

    @MarkedMan: re: my speculation above that this might be an attempt on Manafort’s part To force Trump to pardon him. Seems like I’m not the only one thinking along those lines:

    Mark Warner, the vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said Friday that “any attempt by the President to pardon Mr. Manafort or otherwise interfere in this investigation would be a gross abuse of power and require immediate action by Congress.”

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  17. dazedandconfused says:

    Sometimes I wonder of our political gossip-obsessed press corps is capable of imagining what Mueller just might want most from Manafort is cooperation against Russian mobsters. He would have to eep that on the QT just as much as in matters having to do with Trump.

    Manafort was clearly mixed up with them. Why can’t anybody imagine an old-school cop like Mueller viewing the political carnival as a circus of clown-varmints…but using the rare opportunity of resources provided to take a big-ol bite out of big-game Roosky mobsters?? He was tasked with pursuing ALL crimes he might uncover in the course of his investigation. It’s unlikely Trump can be in all of them folks.

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  18. Gustopher says:

    I eagerly await the Twitstorm.

    “Unrelated coffee boy witch hunt. No collusion. 13 Angry Democrats. Sad.”

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  19. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @MarkedMan: It also wouldn’t work. Somebody elsewhere pointed out that all the charges Mueller dropped have correlating state charges that in the event of a presidential pardon, states such as NY can prosecute without raising any double jeopardy issues and a trump pardon will not shield Manafort from.

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  20. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @dazedandconfused: I am quite sure Mueller will take advantage of this investigation to take down innumerable wrongdoers. I am not sure it will end with a trump impeachment/indictment because even as guilty as he acts I am unsure they will unearth enough evidence.

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  21. Kylopod says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    a pardon from trump would be suicidal for trump

    Trump has so far survived so many apparently “suicidal” moves that I’m not sure the term has much meaning anymore.

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  22. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @James Pearce:

    You need to read item #8 again. This agreement locks him into full cooperation with respect to ANYTHING he’s asked, about any subject the government deems relevant & material.

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  23. James Pearce says:

    @Neil Hudelson:

    That is, when a prosecutor is charging, say, a mid-level mafioso with various crimes, do they just list the charges against that person, or do they list them while specifically saying ‘s/he did this because if his relationship with such and such crime family.”?

    I dunno. But if there really was some duck-aligning going on in regards to Trump, it seems that would rate a mention here.

    Or maybe not.

    @OzarkHillbilly: I saw the VOX link and almost didn’t click through. It was redeemed by having a bunch of different expert-types weighing in, but they all seem to take it as a given that Mueller is going after Trump.

    What if, as dazedandconfused points out, Mueller is going after some different bad guys?

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  24. dmichael says:

    Rudy Giuliani can do nothing right. His statement first said that the “president did nothing wrong and Paul Manafort will tell the truth.” Oops. He apparently didn’t realize the implications of the cooperation agreement Manafort reached with Mueller. The “corrected statement” issued later left out the part about Manafort telling the truth. We will now see Trump’s praising of Manafort flushed down the memory hole. We have always been at war with Eastasia.

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  25. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @James Pearce:

    What if, as dazedandconfused points out, Mueller is going after some different bad guys?

    What gives you the idea that it has to be a binary question? Bob’s mandate is extremely broad. He’s going after both.

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  26. teve tory says:

    Yeah, you would think that having five campaign officials plead guilty to crimes involving Russia would make in impression. But to that psychiatrically challenges individual known as a Trump supporter this is all just background noise. In fact, I doubt they will miss a beat in proclaiming “witch hunt!” And nothing found. Mental illness has that effect.

    While it sucks that Trump supporters exist, the good thing about them is they support Trump. You can’t support Trump without winding up looking like a rube. So at least these shitty people are guaranteed humiliation.

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  27. grumpy realist says:

    TPM has pointed out Manafort (or probably his lawyers) has basically wrong-footed Trump HUGELY with his “no not gonna cooperate”, “no not gonna cooperate”, “no not gonna cooperate” and then suddenly “will talk to you about anything you ask.”

    Considering that Trump hasn’t been burning up his Twitter feed I’m wondering if he even knows yet. Everyone is probably too scared to tell him. Expect fireworks after Hannity tonight.

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  28. Kathy says:

    Fortunately, the memory hole doesn’t work on the internet.

    Just yesterday, it was reported that El Cheeto and Manafort had a joint defense agreement in regards to the Russia investigation.

    So, yeah, we will totally believe there’s no connection. Sure.

    El Cheeto is toast.

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  29. Kathy says:

    @Yank:

    Trump’s biggest mistake was firing Comey. The potential FBI investigation under Comey, was never going to be as thoroughly done as an investigation done by a special prosecutor.

    Second biggest. The first is the set of crimes under investigation.

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  30. wr says:

    I’m sure that Bungles is merely busy making America great again, but if he could be here he’d point out that Manafort’s testimony is actual a great win for Trump because he’s taking up more space in Doug’s brain rent free. Surely the president will he happy about that.

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  31. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Kylopod: True enough.

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  32. James Pearce says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    He’s going after both.

    Sure, I’d like to believe that very much.

    But I still feel this uncomfortable feeling deep in the pit of my stomach that Mueller is going to end up protecting the presidency, not destroying it.

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  33. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @James Pearce: I know this is hard for you to conceive of, but what if, I mean just maybe, possibly, could he be, going after all the bad guys that fit under the umbrella of what he is charged with investigating? After all, I think Mueller is accomplished enough to walk and chew gum at the same time.

    While I am pretty sure trump is guilty (of several crimes, none of which necessarily involve Russia) I am not so certain that Mueller will find enough evidence for a prosecution (or impeachment, whatever). Even if he doesn’t, that doesn’t mean his investigation is a failure, as you seem to want to imply. This is not an “all or nothing” proposition.

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  34. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @James Pearce: Dog, I hope he is protecting the Presidency. From trump. Lord knows the Republicans aren’t going to.

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  35. An Interested Party says:

    But I still feel this uncomfortable feeling deep in the pit of my stomach that Mueller is going to end up protecting the presidency, not destroying it.

    Removing the current feckless occupant of the White House would do much to protect the presidency…

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  36. teve tory says:

    For the nimrods complaining that the Mueller investigation is a great big waste of a whole $17 million, Manafort just agreed to forfeit $46 million to the government. So it’s already paid for itself almost 3 times over.

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  37. James Pearce says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    I am not so certain that Mueller will find enough evidence for a prosecution

    You don’t prosecute a president, though.

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  38. Jay L Gischer says:

    In many sources, such as this, Manafort’s lawyer says he made the deal to make sure his family remained safe.

    I have a theory about this, but it seems a bit wild-eyed to me. As in, they are even now in a witness protection program getting locations and names changed, for fear from the Russian assassination squad and nerve gas.

    Does someone have a calmer reading of this?

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  39. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @James Pearce: Now you are being purposely, and stupidly, obtuse. What I said was

    I am not so certain that Mueller will find enough evidence for a prosecution (or impeachment, whatever).

    But as to your statement, for starters, whether one can prosecute a president is NOT settled law (which I’m pretty sure you know, and if you don’t, just google the phrase “can presidents be prosecuted”). 2nd of all, Ex Presidents absolutely CAN be prosecuted. Which I am also pretty sure you are smart enough to figure out.

    So I’m really not sure what point you are trying to make.

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  40. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Jay L Gischer: I have read that speculation from many others. It seems within the realm of reason considering his history of Russian/Ukrainian colluding. Lord only knows what tales he will tell.

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  41. Gustopher says:

    @James Pearce: The theory that a president cannot be indicted or prosecuted has not been tested. The closest we have is a ruling that a President CAN be sued while in office.

    He cannot be removed from the Presidency except by impeachment. But there is no reason he couldn’t do his presidenting from jail, or have the serving of time deferred.

    Justice department policy is not to test this. But, that’s just a policy, and can be reversed by the AG or acting-AG in this case.

    Laying out the evidence of guilt without prosecuting would also effectively destroy Trump. “Here are some draft articles of impeachment, and the evidence. I’m gonna go on vacation and watch this constitutional crisis from a beach for a few weeks… call me if you need me.”

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  42. Scott says:

    Another day, another plea agreement in the Mueller investigation. This one could prove to be problematic for the President.

    Doug, I really appreciate how droll you can be.

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  43. Kathy says:

    @Jay L Gischer:

    I have a theory about this, but it seems a bit wild-eyed to me. As in, they are even now in a witness protection program getting locations and names changed, for fear from the Russian assassination squad and nerve gas.

    Maybe.

    Russians aside, there are many armed Trump supporters, too.

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  44. Gustopher says:

    I also think it is entirely possible that Trump has surrounded himself with criminals because “they get things done”, paid little attention, and looks guilty even though he wasn’t involved because he lashes out and covers up out of pride.

    Possible, but not probable.

    More likely in that type of scenario is that he would wander into crimes and not realize it, because he is just that much of an idiot.

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  45. Scott says:

    @dazedandconfused:

    Mueller just might want most from Manafort is cooperation against Russian mobsters

    The Venn Diagram of Russian organized crime, Russian banks, and Russian government is pretty close to a circle. All the signs point to Trump being compromised by the intersection of those three groups.

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  46. James Pearce says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: @Gustopher: ilIt just seems like we’re taking the longest, hardest, most perilous route here, mostly it seems because there is no desire to do the things needed to win an election. (As in, moderate or compromise or accommodate.)

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  47. wr says:

    @Gustopher: “I also think it is entirely possible that Trump has surrounded himself with criminals because “they get things done”, paid little attention, and looks guilty even though he wasn’t involved because he lashes out and covers up out of pride.”

    Not a lawyer here, but I’m pretty sure that if you hire criminals to “get things done” and they commit crimes in order to do your bidding, even if you can believably claim you didn’t know what methods they planned to use, you’re criminally liable.

    “Your honor, I swear that when I told Lefty and One-Eye to “get rid of my damned wife,” I only meant they should take her out for dinner when I had the guys over…”

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  48. JohnMcC says:

    I’m just hanging onto my hat on this ride and don’t have anything to add but it seems worth noting that the judge in the DC trial is a woman. Judge Amy Berman Jackson gets to play the role of Judge John Sirica in our present trip through the wormhole.

    Having Watergate become some sort of ‘groundhog day’ or recurring nightmare does highlight some changes in America. Most of them are for the better.

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  49. Tyrell says:

    Is anyone safe from Lord Mueller’s high throne? There seem to be no limits to his power and province. It just goes on and on. How is this Constitutional?
    There should be transparency – too much is classified and kept secret. Some sort of committee should be looking at all this. And not one made up of politicians and Federal bureaucrats. Where is Sessions? He should be right in there overseeing this to prevent abuses of power.
    I felt the same way about the Kenneth Starr spurious actions.
    The main stream news is obsessed with this: sensationalism.
    “Convention of States” – a legal, citizen based movement to restore the balance of power.

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  50. MBunge says:

    Oh…so close!

    From the NPR Politics Twitter feed:

    Paul Manafort’s cooperation agreement with the special counsel does not include matters involving the Trump campaign, according to a person familiar with the case, @johnson_carrie reports https://twitter.com/nprpolitics/status/1040640794091237376

    When Republicans made idiots of themselves over that “skewed polls” nonsense in 2012, a lot of them actually learned from it. There was basically none of that talk in 2016.

    How many times do you guys have to be wrong about Trump? Not slightly wrong. Not partially wrong. How many times to do you have to be massively wrong about Trump before you AT LEAST wait a while before flapping your yaps or pounding on your computers/phones?

    Mike

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  51. An Interested Party says:

    @MBunge: Awwwww, that’s so sweet…you’re grasping at whatever straw you can…it’s particularly amusing in that if that tweet told us that Manafort definitely has a lot of dirt on Trump, you certainly wouldn’t be telling us about it and you would completely dismiss it…keep grasping, fluffer…

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  52. Kari Q says:

    It doesn’t look like Manafort got much from this plea deal. He pleaded guilty, surrendered assets, and is still vulnerable to state charges. That makes me wonder if he either didn’t have much to offer prosecutors or the case against him was so solid that prosecutors didn’t see much point in a deal. I’m fairly ignorant about these things, though, so perhaps I am missing something.

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  53. Kari Q says:

    @Tyrell:

    Is anyone safe from Lord Mueller’s high throne?

    If this was intended as parody, it’d be gold. Is no convicted felon safe from prosecution for more crimes? Won’t someone please think of the poor guilty guys in suits!

    Unfortunately, you appear to be seriously upset that a man convicted of multiple felonies and facing charges of more has decided to plead guilty and tell investigators the details of his crimes. Weird world we’re living in.

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  54. grumpy realist says:

    Looks like the Feds might be using the data gathered as an opportunity to get rid of stinkers on both sides

    Good riddance. If I ever run for POTUS, a BIIIIG whopping anti-corruption drive will be in my platform.

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  55. grumpy realist says:

    @MBunge: Dude, you’ve fallen for the disinformation campaign Manafort’s attorneys were putting out before he did a total switcharoo and promised the feds he would talk about anything they wanted him to.

    But go on, continue to beat that drum. I’m sure you’ll get a gold star someday.

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  56. Slugger says:

    Here is a fun fact. A couple of days ago, someone commented that the Mueller investigation was very expensive. I pointed out that it was less than $17 million. I just learned that Manafort will be coughing up $46 million. Profit!

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  57. Kathy says:

    @Kari Q:

    It is quite ironic to see law and order Republicans complain that law enforcement is prosecuting criminals.

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  58. dennis says:

    @Kathy:

    “Second biggest. The first is the set of crimes under investigation.”

    Actually, Kathy, his first mistake was the lack of self-awareness that caused him to believe he could enter the public arena and withstand the accompanying scrutiny. I’ll bet he’s said a thousand times, “I should’ve stayed in New York!”

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  59. MarkedMan says:

    What if, as dazedandconfused points out, Mueller is going after some different bad guys?

    Pearce, see, this is where you went wrong in this thread. You latched onto someone else’s point and tried to ride it. I know I shouldn’t be giving you advice, considering that your entire schtick is to pretend to be a concerned liberal worried that we are PLAYING INTO TRUMP’S MASTER PLAN by, well, by focusing on whatever crime one of his cronies is convicted of, or of paying attention to one of his racist tweets, and so on. But it galls me to see someone get so far off their game. It’s like watching the opposing pitcher throwing three homers in a row. Watching someone completely lose their game takes the fun out of it.

    Seriously, stick to your schtick. You believe your core strength is pretending to be a liberal and subtly influencing the lurkers here who don’t spend enough time to realize that you are really a full-on flaming Trumpizoid. And you may well be right! I despise you for it, on a moral plane, but, hey, 39% of the population approve of the Pathetic Orange Loser so maybe you will be successful in your master plan to make it 39.00001%. But today, speaking on a purely professional plane, I am embarrassed for you.

    This idea that Mueller is willing to forego prosecution of the campaign manager of the President of the United States because he wants to go after a bunch of two bit Russian Mob Guys who will simply catch the next flight out to Moscow the minute this plea bargain is announced, well, it’s ludicrous. And I suspect you knew it right after you hit “Post Comment”. Even to the people you are trying to reach, the people you consider to be gullible lurkers, you must realize this is very, very weak sauce. So stick to what you do best. Tell us that by focussing not the guilty plea of Trump’s campaign manager for crimes involving Russia (a guilty plea, by the way, that was so extensive it took the better part of an hour to enumerate all the various Russia related crimes he had committed), tell us that by focusing on that we are playing into Trump’s Master Plan and instead we should [insert some vague and random action here].

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  60. One American says:

    Sigh……..almost got him but NOPE still your President, have a lovely weekend.

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  61. Michael Reynolds says:

    @James Pearce: @Gustopher:
    My apology for my dickish Romney moment of yesterday is stuck in mod on the other thread. But to reiterate: yeah, I was being a dick. Sorry. Weird couple of days.

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  62. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @James Pearce:

    ilIt just seems like we’re taking the longest, hardest, most perilous route here, mostly it seems because there is no desire to do the things needed to win an election. (As in, moderate or compromise or accommodate.)

    WTF??????????????????????????????????????????????? We were talking about Mueller’s investigation. WHAT COMPROMISE????? WHAT ELECTION?????

    Tell me, please, where do I register so I can vote for trump’s conviction?

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  63. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Tyrell:

    I felt the same way about the Kenneth Starr spurious actions.

    Bullshit.

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  64. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @One American: Sigh……..almost pulled it off, but NOPE, still just a Russian troll.

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  65. Kit says:

    @HarvardLaw92: I’ve been missing your analysis on this subject these past weeks. Anything you can share?

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  66. James Pearce says:

    You latched onto someone else’s point and tried to ride it.

    No, dazedandconfused just expressed the idea better. I probably shouldn’t have even commented on it, saving it from being associated with all the “Pearce, you’re a ____” baggage.

    Sorry. Weird couple of days.

    I appreciate you saying this, Michael. Consider it all good.

    We were talking about Mueller’s investigation. WHAT COMPROMISE????? WHAT ELECTION?????

    So I’m just supposed to pretend that the Resistance doesn’t consider Mueller’s investigation, whose conclusion in their minds is foregone, to be the mechanism used to dismantle the Trump presidency?

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  67. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @James Pearce:

    So I’m just supposed to pretend that the Resistance doesn’t consider Mueller’s investigation, whose conclusion in their minds is foregone, to be the mechanism used to dismantle the Trump presidency?

    For starters, where were you during Obama’s presidency? 2nd of all, has there ever been a more corrupt administration than trump’s? 3rd of all, we all know he’s guilty of something (I include you in that “we” because you aren’t a complete blithering idiot), we just don’t know of what, or if the evidence will be sufficient to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt or enough to shame the Republicans into doing what they should have done back in the primaries.

    Lastly, why do you pretend otherwise? So that you can appear superior to us mere partisans as you gaze lovingly into the mirror of your false “independence”? The act is not only old, it is an obvious lie. So why?

    Why did you engage in that exercise in obfuscation the other day over Manaforts (at the time, possible) plea bargain? What was it you said? Oh yeah:

    The thinking is that he’ll agree to a plea deal in exchange for something, for flipping or fingering someone else. And yeah, some plea deals work like that.
    But what if this is one of those, “We have a pretty good case but it’s going to be tricky to convict, so let’s plead it down” plea deals?
    What if it’s one of those “Pappadapolous got 14 days and you’re trying to give me life?” plea deals?
    I know, I know. Totally daft to consider other possibilities.

    to which I replied,

    No. just totally daft to consider those 2 possibilities.

    You were being obviously daft then and you’re being obviously daft now, but why?

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  68. Barry says:

    @James Pearce: “What if, as dazedandconfused points out, Mueller is going after some different bad guys?”

    That’s a very good theory, and would be a decent move on Mueller’s part. From his point of view, presidents come and go; mafias last until busted.

    However, going after the Russian mafia in the USA would involve following the money. As far as we know, a lot of suitcases of cash were given to Trump business by recent Soviet/Russian emigres with no visible means of having such cash.

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  69. wr says:

    @James Pearce: “I appreciate you saying this, Michael. Consider it all good.”

    Wait a minute. First MR graciously apologizes, and then Pearce accepts it with equal grace?

    What are you people doing? There are rules about this kind of behavior. Do you want this entire site banned from the internet???

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  70. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @wr: Who are they and what have they done with the real Michael Reynolds and James Pearce?

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  71. James Pearce says:

    For starters, where were you during Obama’s presidency?

    Right here, dude.

    As for my “daftness,” I’m preparing myself mentally to survive the possibility that Mueller leaves the Trump presidency intact, referring the issue to voters. I’m also trying to get my fellow liberals into this head space so that when the election does come, it’s about the issues facing the country rather than something superficial, like electing some inspirational “first.”

    However, going after the Russian mafia in the USA would involve following the money.

    If we discover that Trump’s body is covered in Vor tattoos, all that will means is that the POTUS is a gangster. Frodo still needs to take the ring all the way over to Mordor. (So to speak.)

    @OzarkHillbilly: @wr: Maybe you guys have me all wrong? Just putting that out there….

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  72. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @James Pearce: And, of course, the only choices are binary–Mueller can be going after Trump OR other guys, but not BOTH. Got it.

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  73. James Pearce says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    Mueller can be going after Trump OR other guys

    It doesn’t matter what Mueller is going to do. If you want to get rid of President Trump, beating him in an election is the best way to do it. Despite Clinton’s 16 loss, I think that’s doable.

    Provided, of course, Democrats abandon unproductive behaviors.

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  74. Scott F. says:

    @James Pearce:

    I’d agree that beating Trump in an election is the best way to rid ourselves of him.

    But, even if that were the only way to remove him from office, your idea of what constitutes behavior productive to that end is profoundly myopic. ANYTHING that weakens Trump (including, but not limited to, trumpeting the advances in Mueller’s prosecutions, calling out Trump’s most egregious attacks on the norms of governance and public discourse, and, yes even, decrying the childish prevarications in the daily deluge from his Twitter account), will make it harder for him and his party at the ballot box.

    And though the mid-term results are yet to be seen, these behaviors are producing. Trump is surprisingly weak for a President with a thriving economy and Dems have the momentum with candidates running on both resistance to the dangers of Trumpism AND progressive policy solutions for the issues facing the country. (despite your willful ignorance of such campaigning).

    Frankly, your fellow liberals don’t need any help with their headspace. You, on the other hand…

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  75. Michael Reynolds says:

    @wr:
    @OzarkHillbilly:
    In a life with a lot of bizarre, sudden twists and turns, I’m in the middle of one of the more head-snapping. I was in London looking at neighborhoods to move to, ready to ease into a genteel semi-retirement and two hours later I’d decided to move to LA. Unsettling, even for an un-moored, rootless guy like me.

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  76. Lit3Bolt says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Sounds like you tried some English food and experienced some English weather, and your brain said, Homer Simpson-style, “That’s it. I’m outta here.” *stamping feet, car ignition, tires squeal*

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  77. James Pearce says:

    @Scott F.:

    Trump is surprisingly weak for a President with a thriving economy and Dems have the momentum with candidates running on both resistance to the dangers of Trumpism AND progressive policy solutions for the issues facing the country.

    Trump is surprisingly weak, but from my eyes, the Dems are much weaker. If they manage to come out of the mid-terms with actual congressional majorities, they’ll be so small and useless you’re going to feel a little dumb using the word “momentum.”

    This against Trump!

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  78. teve tory says:

    David Rothkopf

    Verified account

    @djrothkopf
    20h20 hours ago
    More

    It is, on it is own, stunning that WH says that the fact that men Trump picked as his campaign chairman, his campaign deputy, his national security advisor, and his personal attorney (among others) have been found guilty of major crimes has nothing to do with the president.

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  79. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Michael Reynolds: Damn. Did you get whiplash?

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  80. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @James Pearce:

    I’m preparing myself mentally to survive the possibility that Mueller leaves the Trump presidency intact, referring the issue to voters.

    I’m way ahead of you. My head has been there since the day Mueller took this investigation on. What’s taking you so long?

    it’s about the issues facing the country rather than something superficial, like electing some inspirational “first.”

    Yes, and the #1 issue on election day 2020 is going to be trump if he is still in office, and if he isn’t it’s going to be the way the GOP enabled him.

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  81. MarkedMan says:

    @James Pearce:

    I’m preparing myself mentally to survive the possibility that Mueller leaves the Trump presidency intact, referring the issue to voters. I’m also trying to get my fellow liberals into this head space so that when the election does come, it’s about the issues facing the country

    There you go Pearce! Back to your tried and true formula:
    1) Pretend you are liberal
    2) Pretend you are not a Trump supporter
    3) Use the “street cred” such clever obfuscations give you to try and convince everyone that literally every Trump administration scandal is small beer
    4) Offer the alternative that we should instead be focusing on some vague and undefined set of issues
    5) Profit!

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  82. Mikey says:

    @James Pearce: It’s unfortunate that GOP gerrymandering will make it difficult for Democrats in House elections to perform at the ballot box in proportion to their actual voter support.

    Also unfortunate is the coincidence of the Senate seats up for the vote in November, where Democrats must defend 25 seats, but Republicans only eight. In fact, the Senate map hasn’t looked this bad for Democrats since we started direct election of Senators over 100 years ago.

    But in fact, there’s more strength to the Democrats than you think. Fewer Americans identify as Republicans than at any time in the past 25 years, but identification as Democrat has remained steady over that time.

    And, interestingly, the GOP could have its own turnout problems. From the NYT:

    America First Action, a political committee aligned with Mr. Trump, conducted a series of focus groups over the summer and concluded the party had a severe voter-turnout problem, brought on in part by contentment about the economy and a refusal by Republicans to believe that Democrats could actually win the midterm elections.

    Conservative-leaning voters in the study routinely dismissed the possibility of a Democratic wave election, with some describing the prospect as “fake news,” said an official familiar with the research, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the data was not intended to be disclosed. [emphasis mine – M.]

    Even the Senate now appears to be in play, and if Republican voters remain complacent and distracted by Trump’s cries of “fake news” and stay home, it could end up a lot worse for Congressional Republicans than you think it will.

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  83. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @James Pearce: ” If you want to…”
    While I realize that you are using “you” in a general sense, consider this a demonstration of why that’s a bad idea. As I have made clear over the past two years, I have no particular interest at all in getting rid of Trump until the next election. I want the nation to have a complete Trump experience in the (faint, very faint) hope that the nation will learn that electing people “to send the nation a message” (the great “f**k you” of Michael Moore’s commentary) sounds better than in actually works. I don’t have much hope for it working, but it’s the best available at this time since impeaching Trump simply removes the stigma rather than the policies since Mike Pence, loathsome, pigheaded, obstreperous, and evil though he may be, is WAAAAAAy more palatable than Trump, as is borne out by all the people on this thread who show a willingness to blink at the policies by advocating impeachment and replacement of Trump with Pence.

    My entire comment was about your simpleminded, reductionist approach to the goal of the Mueller investigation. Moreover, I am fully aware of the possibility that Mueller will simply report the outcome of the investigation as it pertains to the actions of Trump (and maybe even his family) leaving taking corrective action to Congress (which will probably do as close to nothing as possible), the DOJ, and the AGs of the various states involved. That may be the right and salutary course of action; I have no dog in that fight.

    TL/DR: Tighten your thinking process and don’t accuse individuals of belonging to cohorts to which they do not belong.

    [The Is in this case were for rhetorical effect, but to anybody wondering, yes, I do have an ego problem. And I am so vain that I think that song is about ME.]

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  84. teve tory says:

    Conservative-leaning voters in the study routinely dismissed the possibility of a Democratic wave election, with some describing the prospect as “fake news,”

    These aren’t the sharpest bulbs in the drawer. 😛

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  85. Tyrell says:

    @grumpy realist: I have read somewhere that President Grant had a big anti-corruption plan.

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  86. dazedandconfused says:

    @MarkedMan:

    I am not implying he will forgo prosecution, as Harvard said this isn’t binary.

    As to the two-bit mobsters, read yesterday they are seizing $46 million in assets from Manafort. He was a big time money launderer, by all appearances. You calling that “two bit”?? That the perps will flee and be unable to travel? So what? With Manafort’s help it may well be we can grab billions in their ill-gotten gains and put a big ol monkey wrench in their ops. It is very rare that a cop has the assets needed to go after this sort of game.

    I have though of an allegory for the sort of mindset I suspect in Mueller. Watch the last 10 minutes or so of the newer version of The Thomas Crown Affair. What the cop says to the insurance investigator.

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  87. JohnSF says:

    @dennis:

    “I should’ve stayed in New York!”>

    I could almost (almost…) feel sorry for Trump.
    He’s spent most of his life tap-dancing around the law.
    Now he’s tap-danced his way into a mincing machine.

    As I’ve said before: “When you give the All Seeing Eye cause to look in your direction, best to be wearing clean underwear.”

    When Trump first became a serious challenger in the primaries, I had vague recollections of Marla Marples and the Scottish golf course disputes.
    So I looked, only cursorily, and asked, only casually.
    And it plainly stunk like a month old kipper.
    As one acquaintance said: “Trump is so bent you could nail the ends together and use him as a wheel.”
    And obviously in bed (in an “oh, really, he’s a criminal, well, honestly, I just never thought to ask” kind of way) with “very tasty heavy geezers”.

    Politics at the federal level was probably an ill advised career option.

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  88. Grumpy realist says:

    @Michael Reynolds: don’t decide to stay in England until you’ve gone through at least two of their winters. And with Brexit fast approaching, be willing to live off mushy peas, turnips, and all the other horrors of “traditional” British cuisine…

    L.A.? Much much smarter. At least you only have to worry about the earthquakes…

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  89. MarkedMan says:

    @dazedandconfused: You make a fair point. On its own I don’t think it trumps my argument about giving up a major player for a more minor one. Manafort was the President’s campaign manager in a disputed election, after all. But adding to your argument is that Mueller already has him. After all, he will spend his last remaining productive years behind bars. So maybe Mueller is willing to sacrifice some additional jail time if it allows him to keep a bunch of bad actors out of the US and seize their assets.

    It would surprise me if he made that decision but it is certainly plausible.

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  90. dazedandconfused says:

    @MarkedMan:
    Thanks, I don’t think we have much disagreement on this.

    I just don’t think it’s time to conclude Mueller would be giving up a key witness in Manafort to concentrate on Manafort’s past business dealings myself. For one thing Mueller already has Trump’s lawyer on the hook. Manafort would be a corroborating witness, one of several and not a particularly good one. By the look of all these guilty pleas/deals Mueller has oodles of witnesses. More than that I think it likely a deep investigation into Russian mob money laundering by means of real estate will circle right back to Trump at some point.

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