Mueller Wants Immunity for Unnamed Manafort Witnesses

Mueller Wants Immunity for Unnamed Manafort Witnesses July 18, 2018

With the fraud and money laundering trial of former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort — sorry, I mean some guy who used to hang around the office and fetch coffee now and then — about to begin, Special Counsel Robert Mueller has asked the judge to grant immunity to five unnamed witnesses against him.

“The motions indicate that the named individuals will not testify or provide other information on the basis of their privilege against self-incrimination, and that the government is requesting that the Court compel them to testify at the upcoming trial,” the request says.

Immunity would relieve them of the need of Fifth Amendment protections, so the witnesses could then be forced to testify. However, they would still be vulnerable to prosecution for perjury if they lied under oath.

Witnesses’ names were left out of the indictment because the special counsel is not certain they will be called to testify.

If immunity is granted — and such requests usually are — that is very bad news for Manafort, because those witnesses will be admitting to actual crimes in which Manafort is allegedly involved. We don’t know what those crimes are, but wire fraud and money laundering are the serious charges he faces. And cases like this are referred to by prosecutors are document cases, based almost entirely on a paper trail. That makes them very hard to defend against. When you have the records of bank transactions to submit in court, there’s little defense that one can put on in such cases. Maybe this is why there was a sudden delay by the judge for the next hearing, which was to be all on procedural motions? Perhaps Manafort is cutting a deal because of this.

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