Effectively consolidating and resolving the two criminal cases against him in Washington and in Virginia federal courts, former Trump Campaign Chief Paul Manafort pleaded guilty to two conspiracy charges brought up by Robert Mueller, CNBC reported Friday.
Manafort’s guilty plea relates to money earned from consulting work on behalf of pro-Russia politicians in Ukraine, but his plea deal with Mueller further complicates matters for President Trump, who continues to face legal and political danger.
For Robert Mueller — head of the Special Counsel investigation surrounding alleged Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election — Manafort’s guilty plea is another victory. It follows a set of guilty pleas from some of Trump’s closest confidants: former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, Campaign Adviser George Papadopoulos, and former Trump campaign official Rick Gates.
Furthermore, Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer and fixer, Michael Cohen, pleaded guilty last month to charges brought by federal prosecutors in the state of New York.
Apart from probing alleged Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. elections — and possible coordination with the Trump campaign — Mueller is eying President Trump for possible obstruction of justice.
All of the above has made Robert Mueller one of Donald Trump’s favorite targets. President Trump has referred to Mueller’s Russia probe as a “witch hunt” on multiple occasions, attacking Robert Mueller and questioning the legitimacy of his investigations.
“Russia hoax,” and “no collusion,” are some of the phrases Trump has used to discredit Mueller, calling his special counsel a political “witch hunt.”
He has also accused Special Counsel of wasting taxpayer’s money multiple times. Those days may be coming to an end, causing President Trump to find a new avenue of attack on Mueller, as the investigation may have just paid for itself with Manafort’s guilty plea, according to the Washington Post.
A.P. has just reported that the Russian Hoax Investigation has now cost our government over $17 million, and going up fast. No Collusion, except by the Democrats!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 1, 2018
14 days for $28 MILLION – $2 MILLION a day, No Collusion. A great day for America!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 7, 2018
Part of the plea agreement reached between Mueller and Manafort includes property forfeiture to the government. While it remains unclear exactly how much money the federal government will “make” from Manafort’s guilty plea, it is safe to assume that the Russia probe will pay for itself, the Washington Post claims.
Five of Manafort’s properties are projected to be forfeited to the government.
- Union Street, Brooklyn, worth $4.1 million
- Howard Street, Manhattan, worth $3 million
- Jobs Lane, Water Mill, worth $7.3 million
- Baxter Street, Manhattan, worth $4.1 million
- Property in Trump Tower, Manhattan, worth $3.7 million
The combined value of these properties is about $22.2 million. However, if some of these properties are co-owned by Paul Manafort — or under mortgage — there will need to be an agreement on how best to split assets from any potential sale, according to Jennifer Rodgers, executive director of the Center for the Advancement of Public Integrity at Columbia Law School.
“Sometimes if it’s joint ownership you do have to go through a process with the other owners, with the other parties. The government will do that as part of the forfeiture process. You can seize them, but seizing them doesn’t mean it’s all said and done… They do have to account for any other owners.”
If there is a mortgage, “the bank is not going to be out because he [Manafort] is a criminal,” Rodgers explained.
Furthermore, these are not the only properties being seized by the government. Manafort will forfeit three bank accounts, and he will have to give up his life insurance policy.
In total, the government’s seizures from Manafort could be worth some $46 million.