Paul Manafort, Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign chair, lied to federal investigators in the Donald Trump Russia collusion investigation, even after Manafort struck a plea deal with prosecutors agreeing to fully cooperate with them in the case in exchange for a lighter sentence, according to a new court filing that the Inquisitr reported earlier today. But according to some experts on the case, Russia investigation Special Counsel Robert Mueller set an elaborate trap with the plea deal, a trap that has now ensnared Trump himself — and Manafort walked right into it.
Because he expects a pardon from Trump, Manafort felt free to lie to investigators while also acting as a “mole” for Trump, feeding him information about what he falsely told Mueller, according to national security journalist Marcy Wheeler, writing on her Empty Wheel site.
As a result, Trump’s written answers to Mueller’s questions, which Trump submitted last week as CNN reported, are likely to be “full of lies,” Wheeler wrote.
The journalist, who herself has given information to the FBI in the Russia case, according to the Washington Post, wrote that “Mueller’s team appears to have no doubt that Manafort was lying to them. That means they didn’t really need his testimony, at all. It also means they had no need to keep secrets — they could keep giving Manafort the impression that he was pulling a fast one over the prosecutors, all while reporting misleading information to Trump.”
But deceiving Trump into, in all likelihood, parroting Manafort’s lies in his written answers to Mueller — which would also serve as evidence that Manafort was acting as a Trump spy within the investigation — Wheeler says that Mueller has now given himself an opportunity to air his collusion evidence in open court. Mueller is required to spell out that evidence in a later report to the Justice Department. But that report, as ABC News reported, is likely to be simply buried without ever seeing a public release.
That public airing will now come at a hearing wherein a judge will decide whether Manafort has indeed broken his plea deal as Mueller alleged in a Monday United Stated District Court filing. At that hearing, Mueller’s team of prosecutors will reveal their evidence that Manafort has been untruthful with them – and to do so they must show their evidence of collusion, if indeed that was the subject of Manafort’s alleged lies. Manafort denied that he lied to the investigators, as New York Times correspondent Ken Vogel reported.
Another legal expert, posting anonymously under the pseudonym “Shockratees” on Twitter, called the upcoming hearing, for which no date has yet been set, “a mini-bench-trial of the collusion facts. If the court grants it, we will see the whole show, right here.”
“This kind of tactic only comes from Mueller’s level and caliber,” wrote the anonymous legal expert on Twitter.
“Mueller has proposed a way to put Donald Trump, and the facts about Donald Trump, on trial without the slightest chance of executive privilege being asserted, successfully or unsuccessfully. And Manafort, thug that he is, fumbled and crimed himself right into this trap.”
If the experts are correct, the Manafort plea deal would not be the first instance in which Mueller has apparently outwitted Trump. Though Trump has appointed an outspoken opponent of the Russia investigation, Matt Whitaker, to oversee Mueller after firing former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Mueller is believed to have already handed down “dozens” of sealed indictments in the case — indictments which because they are in the court system are now beyond Whitaker’s control, as the Inquisitr reported.