AWhen Donald Trump's personal attorney, Michael Cohen, changed sides three weeks ago, got confession and cooperated with FBI investigators, the president was furious. And he praised his ex-campaign leader Paul Manafort. "Unlike Michael Cohen, he refused to fold and invent stories to make a deal," tweeted Trump in the style of a Mafia boss who defended the Omerta law. "So much respect for a brave man!"
Trump and his followers also discussed a possible forgiveness of Manafort by the president to strengthen his opposition to the FBI.
Well, that did not work. Three weeks later Manafort is now bent and makes the Cohen. According to researchers, Manafort made a confession on Friday and admitted that he had deceived the treasury billions of dollars, washed money, lobbied unannounced for foreign interests and influenced witnesses.
Resist for a long time
Manafort had defied the charges against him for a long time and the special FBI investigator Robert Mueller with all legal means to use. After Manafort was found guilty of eight charges in a first trial at the end of August, he did not want to let go of another trial that would have started next week.
The prospect of spending the rest of his life in prison has apparently caused the 69-year-old to give up his stalemate. Now he also collaborates with the researchers, as a number of other former staff members and confidants Trumps has done before.
In the hope that the judges give him a milder sentence. Part of the deal is the purchase by the state of real estate Manaforts worth an estimated $ 22 million as compensation for lost tax payments. The researchers met Manafort for their part and reported all outstanding costs.
Trump & # 39; s lawyers about mitigation
The team of Trump lawyers immediately tried to limit the damage and keep the president from the events. "Again, an investigation has led to a guilty plea that has nothing to do with President Trump or the Trump campaign," said Trump legal advisor, Rudolph Giuliani. "The reason: the president did nothing wrong, and Paul Manafort will tell the truth."
It is true that the accusations have nothing to do with the work of Manafort for Trump, although some of the crimes took place during the time of Manafort as head of the campaign. Apart from that, the accusations concern mainly the activities of Manafort in Ukraine for the pro-Russian politician and later President Viktor Yanukovich.
Manafort, however, was the figure in the Trump campaign team with the closest ties to the Kremlin, precisely because of its years of dark trade with pro-Russian politicians and Russian oligarchs. During his time as head of the campaign, for example, the famous Donald Trump Junior meeting with a Russian lawyer, helped Moscow to find dirt against Hillary Clinton. A meeting in which Manafort participated.
Then Manafort was instrumental in weakening the republican election program for the candidate Ukraine, in a way that was pleasing to the Kremlin. Manafort also participated in a large number of internal debates, which can provide information about possible cooperation with Moscow.
Manafort is the star witness for whom special researcher Robert Mueller has been waiting for a long time. "That's a big win for the Mueller team, and Manafort's collaboration has always been seen as the holy grail of this research," said former federal researcher Robert Minz at the Washington Post. "One has to wait and see what Manafort can actually deliver, but it is unlikely that the prosecutors would have agreed to such a deal if they were not convinced that it could provide valuable information."
Hardest note on the way to Trump
Manafort seemed to be the hardest nut until Friday, which Mueller had to crack. Now it shows again how successful the strategy of the Special Investigator really is. He collects all the incriminating material that he can retrieve, regardless of whether it is the core of his research order or not. By doing so, he builds pressure to turn the accused around and get information that can lead to the heart of the research and help them to train them there.
After all, what is known so far, Mueller pursues two main lines. One is to find out if there was a secret collaboration between the Trump campaign and Moscow. The second thread is whether Trump, as president, has impeded justice in the Enlightenment.
Until now, there seemed to be more robust evidence of legal handicaps, but Manafort can not contribute to this complex because he left the Trump cosmos long before the inauguration. This suggests the suspicion that Manafort can provide relevant information about Russia's influence campaign. Or he may have knowledge of other members of Trump's immediate environment who could help Mueller pressurize her. For example, because they might have been rushed with false statements to the FBI.
In fact, these are all speculations so far. Nobody knows what Manafort Mueller can deliver. That is also because the Special Investigator is one of the few in gibberish Washington whose team has so far left little on the outside. The only thing that is known about the direction in which Mueller moves can be deduced from the statements of those who have been questioned by him, who have gained insight into the strength of Mueller's research from the questions asked to them.
For a long time it seemed that the silent Mueller Trump was hopelessly inferior in terms of public relations. Finally, almost every day, Trump jumps on the Special Investigator and accuses him and the Justice Department of prejudices and tweeting of a "witch-hunt" against him.
Mueller has never opposed these allegations. Instead, he pursues his research work stubbornly, quietly and uncomplicatedly. The slow-acting mills of justice can be a cliché. In the case of Mueller, it happens once. And the question is whether the ever hectic Trump will eventually be crushed by these slow, but stable, working millstones. In any case, Mueller Manafort had long been underestimated. But this arrogance has now been transferred to him.