I love when news breaks on Rachel Maddow. She explains things so well, and asks the best questions.
Yesterday we were all wondering what, specifically, Paul Manafort had done to piss off Bob Mueller so badly that the plea deal was off, and both sides wanted to proceed to sentencing immediately, if not sooner. Tonight, we know.
Paulie Walnuts was Trump's mole inside the Mueller investigation. That's right. After he agreed to the plea deal, and was allegedly cooperating with Mueller, he continued to somehow feed information back to Donnie Delusion. Manafort was apparently angling for a "presidential" pardon at the same time he was angling for a lighter sentence from the man who misses nothing and catches everyone.
Maddow had former U.S. Attorney from Michigan, Barbara McQuade on to help dissect the breaking news.
MADDOW: This is described in The New York Times as something unusual. Mr. Manafort had plead guilty. He had a cooperation agreement with prosecutors. We know from yesterday's court filing that prosecutor says he blew it. He lied to them. He committed crimes after this deal by lying to them. He's thereby released from the deal and his sentencing should go ahead. Now The Times is reporting that while he was supposedly cooperating, he was secretly feeding information to other people who were actively part of this investigation, including the president. Is that also a violation of the plea agreement?
McQUADE: You know, it's not TECHNICALLY contemplated by the plea agreement because I can't tell you how unusual this is. I don't know that I have ever seen this happen. I think this is even potentially an act of obstruction of justice. If it goes that far, then it would be, because he is prohibited from engaging in other crimes. But I don't know that it would be even contemplated that he would be then feeding information to the other side. A couple of things that ordinarily prevent this. When someone switches sides, you refer to it as flipping because you now assume they are all in. The agreement says you will cooperate truthfully, fully, completely in all -- and be forthcoming with all information. Some prosecutors refer to it as joining Team USA. So the idea that you would be double dealing and sharing information with other subjects of an investigation is really highly unusual. And the other thing is, to the extent a lawyer was involved in the joint defense agreement where they're sharing information, usually that lawyer says we have to withdraw once my client decides to cooperate because we recognize that our interests may diverge. And so ethically, typically the lawyer understands that he needs to be out of that picture as well. So incredibly unusual, and I think that it's quite possible if information is being fed in either direction that there could be an investigation for obstruction of justice here.
MADDOW: Are you suggesting the lawyer himself or herself who is involved in conveying this information to the president and the president's legal team, that lawyer could him or herself be in trouble for this?
McQUADE: I think so. If the lawyer is sharing information that's sensitive to the investigation that he's learning from his client based on the questions that he's being asked and reporting back to people who are themselves within the scope of the investigation, I think one could argue that that's an effort to interfere with the investigation or similarly if people on the trump camp are feeding information back and instructing Manafort not to answer certain questions or to lie about certain things, I that could be obstruction as well. Certainly facts would need to be learned about this before you could make such an allegation, but it is incredibly unusual, and I can understand why mueller's team would have been very angry to find out about this, and to the extent they found out Manafort was lying to them, to sever all ties.
Oh, I am here for this. Not only is it looking like the Tangerine Tyrant is in the crosshairs for potential obstruction, now his loyal soldier, Paulie Walnuts is, too. What's the saying? Elect a clown, expect a circus? Then Rachel goes on with her wild imagination, which isn't really all that off the mark, if you think about it. Is it possible Trump told Manafort just to take a deal after he got creamed in the Virginia trial? Flip, cooperate, be my mole, and there's a nice pardon in it for you on the other end of it. Maddow asked McQuade if that was the case, would that constitute criminal conspiracy?
McQUADE: Again, I think it could be. It depends on the facts. The part that sounds borderline illegal is the part where you said go in and be our mole. If the purpose was to gather information about what's going on in the investigation and share it back with others who are potential subjects of the investigation so that they can take steps to ensure that the investigation does not come to fruition, I think that could amount to obstruction of justice. If anything happened what you described, I don't know that it would need to be as overt as that. I don't know that they need to say things quite so explicitly. It might have been a mutual understanding. Remember, there was that report that John Dowd had had conversations with the white house or with Manafort's lawyers about a potential pardon down the road. And so maybe there were discussions that would give them each enough of an idea about what was happening implicitly without having to have that explicit conversation.
Oh, you stupid, stupid men. Thinking anything - ANYTHING would get past Mueller and his team's watchful eye. He is playing 4-dimensional chess and you cannot even play "Simon Says."