So let’s not miss this: According to a story published on Tuesday in Politico, special counsel Robert Mueller has information from Rick Gates, the former Trump campaign aid and partner to Paul Manafort, that Manafort was still very much involved in what went on with Team Trump, long after he left the campaign.
So what we know about Paul Manafort, the former campaign chairman for Trump, is that he’s probably going to be in prison for quite a while, for a series of crimes..
Manafort also has ties to Russian oligarchs, who happen to be connected to the Kremlin, which makes him a sketchy character.
It becomes even sketchier when you consider Manafort was in financial ruin at the time he offered his services to the Trump campaign, free of charge.
Manafort had a hand in crafting the new, softer language in the GOP platform towards Russia at the RNC convention in 2016, as well.
He, along with Reince Priebus, also worked to keep those delegates who opposed Trump’s candidacy from having a say on the convention floor.
In other words, there’s no way to look at Paul Manafort and not get the impression that his interests are far more in line with that of Russia than the United States.
Gates, who has agreed to cooperate with Mueller’s team, in order for a more lenient sentence, has supplied special counsel with information that suggests that through the transition period, and well into January 2017, Manafort was working through unnamed intermediaries on Trump’s team, in order to get certain people installed in the new administration.
According to Gates, Manafort continued speaking with the unidentified people — their names are redacted in the court filing submitted by Mueller’s prosecutors — through about February 2018, several months after the longtime GOP operative had first been indicted in the special counsel’s Russia inquiry on charges of money laundering, making false statements and other crimes.
It’s unclear whether Manafort was successful in his effort to stock the Trump administration with allies. But the new detail, which Mueller’s office indicated in a Tuesday court filing has been relayed to a federal grand jury, adds to the potential legal quagmire already swirling around Trump and his associates.
As a reminder, about a week ago, Mueller filed to seat a grand jury for another six months, which likely means there are other arrests coming, even as some speculate his final report could come as early as the end of February.
In Tuesday’s court filing, FBI special agent Jeffrey Weiland provided more information about the fact-challenged statements Manafort allegedly made over the course of 12 meetings with Mueller’s prosecutors and in two visits last fall to the grand jury. Mueller’s team also produced a 157-page document of exhibits making their case, though nearly everything in the file is blacked out.
This particular filing addressed those issues where Manafort is said to have lied to special counsel, even after making an agreement to cooperate. How scared must he be of somebody to risk taking additional charges, by lying?
He’s either very scared or immensely arrogant, to think he could get away with it.
The heavy redaction is just another indicator of how close to the vest Mueller is playing this case. If past court filings give any clue, however, it’s that this could involve the contacts Mueller kept with the Trump administration, as well as with a Ukrainian pal by the name of Konstantin Kilimnik.Kilimnik is thought to be a part of Russian intelligence, .
Weiland’s statement does provide additional details surrounding a May 26, 2018, text exchange that Manafort had with an unidentified third party who was asking permission to use Manafort’s name as an introduction in case the person met Trump.
“If I see POTUS one on one next week am I ok to remind him of our relationship?” the person texted Manafort, according to Weiland’s statement.
Manafort responded “yes” and “even if not one on one,” according to Weiland’s statement, which also said Manafort confirmed the interactions in his own grand jury testimony.
Let’s not forget President Trump has praised Manafort for not rolling on him, in the past.
Mueller is looking for a delay in Gates’ sentencing, citing his cooperation with investigators. The federal judge overseeing the case apparently agreed, and it will be revisited on March 15.
Meanwhile, Manafort’s legal team are insisting that their client didn’t mean to lie to or mislead investigators. He wasn’t properly prepared to meet with Mueller’s team.
How prepared do you have to be to not lie?
Last week, Manafort’s lawyers failed to properly redact some of the sealed materials in their own filings and revealed details about what their client was accused of lying about, including his sharing of Trump campaign polling data with Kilimnik that has raised alarm among legal experts about possible collusion between Russia and the campaign.
And that, of course, has started a big debate about why the campaign chairman would have shared polling data with Russian intelligence.
Still, the fact that Manafort was working with people in the Trump administration after the inauguration wasn’t a complete secret, either.
Politico had previously reported on calls between Manafort and then-Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, with advice on how to quell the growing chorus of charges, connecting Trump to Russia.
And then there were the reports of Manafort’s efforts to get people in the door, which pretty much gives weight to Gates’ testimony.
During his trial last summer in Virginia on bank and tax fraud charges, Mueller’s prosecutors presented evidence that the Federal Savings Bank of Chicago agreed to lend Manafort $9.5 million following an unusual dinner in New York between Manafort and the bank CEO, Stephen Calk.
The bank’s senior vice president, Dennis Raico, testified with a grant of immunity from Mueller’s team that Calk had asked him to contact Manafort after the dinner to inquire about a possible senior role in Trump’s administration, including secretary of Treasury or the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Well, we know that one didn’t work out, at least.
While a jury in Alexandria, Va., convicted Manafort on five counts of tax fraud, two counts of bank fraud and a count of failing to file foreign bank account reports, the jury deadlocked on the count related to the Chicago bank loan.
But he will still see heavy time, and shortly.
His sentencing is scheduled for February 8 in Northern Virginia. Then, on March 5, he will receive his sentence in Washington for a separate guilty plea on charges of conspiracy against the U.S. and conspiracy to obstruct justice.
The question remains: Who is going down with him?