Just as the Thursday night rush hour was underway in D.C., ABC broke news that Paul Manafort *may* have struck a plea deal with the Special Counsel related to charges he was facing in Washington, DC.
It is unclear, based on ABC's reporting, how close they are to the deal, if there is a cooperation agreement as part of it or what this means for Donald Trump.
Ari Melber had Senator Blumenthal on to discuss this, among other topics:
MELBER: The other big story tonight, ABC News reporting, and this is for the first time, former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort has reached a plea with special counsel Bob Mueller. As I mentioned NBC news has not confirmed this report yet. It's all unfolding right now. and I'm joined by Senator Richard Blumenthal who serves on the Senate Judiciary Committee relevant to this and first your reaction to these reports which is shocking if you would have thought about this a year or two ago. A campaign chair having been convicted now cutting a deal. Your reaction?
BLUMENTHAL: It would have been shocking just a year ago. Remember that Paul Manafort was in effect tampering with witnesses. His apartment was raided by the FBI because there was the prospect of his destroy documents. Now there is the potential for his cooperation, which in my hope, at any rate, would be involved in any kind of plea agreement. A trial often serves a public education function. And so the public really needs and deserves some public airing of what he did and why he did it, and the Special Counsel would be well served by his cooperation because he knows a lot about Russia collusion as alleged against the President of the United States.
MELBER: Senator, on that point the Cohen plea process involved a brief but rather frank assessment of someone rather close to Donald Trump explaining in his own words how he committed crimes with Donald Trump. Although, as you know the question of what else the feds are going to do with the bigger part of that is open. Do you think it would be a good thing, then, if Paul Manafort does confess to some of whatever it is that's in this plea agreement tomorrow in open court? Or are you concerned this is all a bid by Manafort, who we learned today is in an active defense agreement with Donald Trump, this was going to be the more Russia related trial.
BLUMENTHAL: We'll see what happens in the actual plea agreement. But obviously if it involves some reference and substantiation to the claim that the President is an unindicted co-conspirator that goes to the legitimacy of his Presidency, it will be further strong evidence and support for the Special Counsel at a time when the President is increasingly overt in his desire to shutdown that investigation, his sycophants in Congress are a prospect and so anything that supports the Special Counsel investigations will be welcome.
Blumenthal nailed a key point. If you plead guilty to a crime, you have to admit it -- stand up in court and allocute - which means you tell the Judge and Court exactly to what you are pleading guilty. Manafort may be cooperating, but even if he isn't, his allocution may include references or flat out statements about Donald Trump's involvement or knowledge of Manafort's crimes. This could potentially place Donald Trump in the role of an unindicted co-conspirator -- again.