Paul Manafort wise to take Plea Deal: Darcy cartoon

Manafort trading in his Ostrich jacket for a Canary jacket, from the Mueller government issued collection, was a wise move and worst development, to date, for Trump in the Russian investigation.

CLEVELAND, Ohio — Paul Manafort has traded his $15,000 Ostrich jacket for a Canary jacket from the Robert Mueller government issued collection.

Trump’s former campaign manager signing a plea deal and cooperation agreement with Special Counsel Robert Mueller was a wise move for Manafort and his family, and the worst development in the Russian investigation, to date, for President Trump, Don Jr. and Jared Kushner.

Manafort pleaded guilty to one felony count of conspiracy against the United States and one count of conspiracy to obstruct justice by witness tampering.

The conspiracy count involved laundering money, tax fraud, failure to report foreign bank accounts, failure to register as a lobbyist for a foreign country and lying to federal officials.

Under the plea deal, Manafort forfeits $45 million in assets, including the ostrich jacket and five homes.

In taking the deal, Manafort also forfeits the expense of a second trial that would  have resulted in almost certain conviction, and the risk of spending the rest of his life in jail.

Under the deal, prison time for the charges the 69 year-old Manafort  pleaded guilty to is capped at 10 years.   Sentences for both his convictions in Virginia and now Washington D.C., are to run concurrently.

Former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, Seth Waxman said Manafort will spend less than ten years in prison.

One thing I can conclusively say is Manafort would have been facing a life sentence and my expectation is he will receive somewhere between three to seven years in jail for everything put together” and time served.

Under his cooperation agreement, Manafort must cooperate fully with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, the worst news yet for Trump. And because of that cooperation, the news is likely to get even worse for the president.

Manafort would not have been given a plea deal or a cooperation agreement if he did not have incriminating information he could provide the Mueller investigation on bigger fish.  The only bigger fish are Trump, his son Don Jr. and Jared Kushner.  One former federal prosecutor said Manafort must have provided “blockbuster” information to get the plea deal.

White House damage control spin from Sarah Huckabee Sanders and Rudy Giuliani has been that Manafort had little to do with the campaign and the convictions had nothing to do with the campaign and the Russian investigation.  That’s real fake news.

Manafort was Trump’s campaign manager for months. He was running the campaign during the Republican Convention in Cleveland when the Republican Platform’s position on Ukraine was changed to mirror Russia’s position, at the direction of the Trump campaign, according to those on the platform committee.

Manafort participated in the infamous Trump Tower meeting set up by Don Jr. with Russian operatives promising dirt on Hillary Clinton.

Prior to joining the Trump campaign, Manafort was a political consultant whose main client was Ukraine leaders who were puppets of Vladimir Putin.  He had a multi-million dollar debt with a Russian oligarch tied to Putin.

Manafort was also a longtime business partner of Roger Stone, who has been under investigation by Mueller for his knowledge of the leaking of hacked Hillary Clinton and DNC emails

Among the five properties Manafort has forfeited was his condo in Trump Tower.  Manafort had used his condo ownership as a way to ingratiate himself with Trump and gain a position in the campaign, which he hoped to use to revive his struggling consulting/lobbying business.   Instead it cost him his freedom, wealth and status, all of which he’d still have if had never been involved with Trump.

This time, instead of throwing his lot in with Trump, and trusting he would come through with a pardon, Manafort chose the side of Mueller and the truth.

“He’s accepted responsibility,” said Manafort’s lawyer Kevin Downing. “He wanted to make sure that his family was able to remain safe and live a good life.”

Manafort and his family are definitely better off with Mueller than Trump, and so to will be the country.

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