This morning, Morning Joe focused on Paul Manafort's contacts with an operative linked to Russian intelligence, who met with Manafort while he was still serving as Donald Trump's campaign chairman in August of 2016.
"District Judge Amy Berman Jackson ruled that Manafort meant to lie on at least three issues and that federal prosecutors are no longer bound by their deal to recommend a lighter sentence for the 69-year-old Manafort," Mika Scarborough said.
"The judge's written order states that Manafort made multiple false statements about his interactions and communications with Constantine Kilimnik, who the FBI has linked to Russian intelligence. The judge also ruled that Manafort lied to the FBI, the special counsel's office and the Mueller grand jury regarding payments made by an unidentified firm, Firm A, to a law firm that, the matter was material to their investigation, along with false statements in October of last year that were material to another D.O.J. investigation. The judge said that Manafort lied in two other instances. This new ruling could affect the severity of punishment for Paul Manafort. He is scheduled to be sentenced on March 13th.
"The level of stupidity is unbelievable, but this is a big, big step in the Mueller probe, a big win for Bob Mueller. >>
"A big step in the probe. Jeremy, I just have to ask you and I'm not being facetious here or not trying to be funny in the least, but how in the world can these people be so stupid?" Joe Scarborough said.
"How can they be so dumb? Rick Gates proffers, makes a deal, proffers, lies, gets caught. Paul Manafort makes a deal, proffers, lies. I mean, all of these people lie. They all lie to Bob Mueller and they all get caught. I feel like singing 'Where Have All The Flowers Gone?' When will they ever learn? You're not going to be able to slip anything past this guy. What's it mean for the overall case?" Scarborough asked NBC's national security analyst Jeremy Bash, who served as CIA chief of staff under Leon Panetta.
"When you have an enormous secret, Joe, you may engage in extreme stupidity to cover it up. That's what appears to be going on here," Bash said.
"Manafort had a chance to really reduce his sentence after he was convicted and pled guilty. There are only two tickets out of prison when you've pled guilty, one is to work with cooperators and be truthful and the other path is a pardon.
"In some respects, Manafort was digging in here, hopefully telegraphing to the commander in chief, the president, his buddy, the fact that he's holding firm, kind of like Roger Stone, and a pardon should be coming his way. The big question is, why were they covering up this Constantine Kilimnik and the Trump campaign. What is it that would make them engage not just in stupidity but reckless conduct?
"So why did they?" Joe asked.
"I think they were covering up the ties between the Trump organization and the Russia Federation. And they didn't want that known, and they didn't want that exposed," Bash responded.