Donald Trump's former campaign manager is in court this morning, pleading guilty to one count of witness tampering and one count of conspiracy against the United States. He has also agreed to forfeit $46 million in property in cash, ensuring the Mueller investigation costs are covered for the next couple of years while they continue investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Manafort's turnaround is stunning, given that he has stubbornly refused to cooperate.
The Washington Post reports that prosecutor Andrew Weissman gave a 40-minute summary of Manafort's criminal conduct, which Manafort admitted to in open court.
I have not had an opportunity to read the whole document, but here are some highlights from the Washington Post.
“Manafort stated that ‘[m]y goal is to plant some stink on Tymo’,” according to the document. At the time he made that statement, he was trying to get U.S. news outlets to print stories that Tymoshenko had paid for the murder of a Ukrainian official, according to the criminal information.
The document also says Manafort “orchestrated a scheme to have, as he wrote in a contemporaneous communication, ‘[O]bama jews’ put pressure on the administration to disavow Tymoshenko and support Yanukovych,” the document said.
Manafort set out to spread stories in the U.S. that a senior American Cabinet official “was supporting anti-Semitism because the official supported Tymoshenko,” according to the document. “At one point, Manafort wrote to an associate, “I have someone pushing it on the NY Post. Bada bing bada boom.” The document does not identify the then-Cabinet official and it wasn’t immediately clear if any such story was published.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani both put out statements saying Manafort's criminal activity had nothing to do with his time on the Trump campaign. That's some nice spin, but as Chuck Rosenberg observed in the video above, Sanders' statement "is not telling or important."
"Manafort may have robbed three banks and they will ask him about seven insider trading activities that he knows about," he continued, "And Manafort may have done all of the stuff on his own, but he knows of crimes that other people committed."
Bottom line in Rosenberg's assessment: "It does not really matter to what he is pleading to, what matters is that he is going to cooperate, and that is the big deal."
Watch this space.