Mueller's Indictments: Malafort is Done For . . And Trump Is Anything But Out of the Woods
President Trump may be seething and distancing himself from the indictments of Paul Manfort and Richard Gates, but commentators see a significant problem for the presidency.
Former Trump campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, faces 12 counts: conspiracy against the United States, failure to register as a foreign agent, making false statements, and money laundering.
Donald Trump correctly observes that there was ‘no collusion’ between his campaign and the Russians. However lawyers and others disagree, noting that the Robert Mueller investigation is moving fast and is showing some teeth with the Manafort/Gates indictment.
This is particularly the case given that Trump campaign official George Papadopoulos has pled guilty to charges of lying to the FBI and has been co-operating with the Mueller investigation.
This could lead to further information emerging that could prove damaging to the White House, said William Burke-White, a professor of law at the University of Pennsylvania Law School.
The Financial Times observes that the revelations will further hamper the Trump administration’s efforts to pivot away from Russia dealings, consuming time that the president could be spending on his policy initiatives such as his tax overhaul, which has reached a critical week with the planned publication of draft legislation.
“It will be another public opinion hit and a signal that Mueller is not going to fizzle as an investigation: he is going places with this,” said Matt Glassman, a senior fellow Georgetown University’s Government Affairs Institute. “The biggest problem the Republicans have had this year is there has been no presidential leadership because he has not been able to focus on the legislative agenda . . . Things like this throw him further off course.”
And a senior legal fellow at the conservative Heritage Foundation, John Malcolm said Mr Trump said that the latest news added “incrementally to that noise”. While the president was moving on with his agenda, the Republicans have limited time to do tax reform and “this is certainly going to be a distraction”, he said.
As AbovetheLaw reported, the indictment is meant to “bury Paul Manafort”.
Which… is maybe good news for Donald Trump. Manafort knew this was coming. You don’t see this happen to witnesses who are willing to cooperate and flip on the higher-ups. Clearly, Manafort has not, to this point, divulged any information about the Trump campaign, and how it interacted with the Russians, if at all.
One must assume that this indictment is designed to make him. Maybe Manafort thought the Mueller wasn’t serious or maybe he thinks that he can beat the rap. But maybe he’ll look at his situation differently when he’s under indictment, out on bail, and is being thrown under the bus by Sarah Huckabee Sanders at the podium and Donald Trump on Twitter.
The action has started and all eyes will be on Mueller’s next move . . and indictments.