According to a jaw-dropping new report from The New York Times, former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort was secretly feeding info to the president at the same time he agreed to cooperate with the special counsel investigation.
The revelation indicates that Manafort was essentially playing for both sides, likely with the hope of getting a pardon from Trump.
More from the Times:
A lawyer for Paul Manafort, the president’s onetime campaign chairman, repeatedly briefed President Trump’s lawyers on his client’s discussions with federal investigators after Mr. Manafort agreed to cooperate with the special counsel, according to one of Mr. Trump’s lawyers and two other people familiar with the conversations.
The arrangement was highly unusual and inflamed tensions with Mr. Mueller’s office when prosecutors discovered it after Mr. Manafort began cooperating two months ago, the people said. Some legal experts speculated that it was a bid by Mr. Manafort for a presidential pardon even as he worked with the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, in hopes of a lighter sentence.
Rachel Maddow pounced on the news Tuesday night, asking, “Is that legal?”
Rachel Maddow reports on another bombshell: Paul Manafort was giving Trump info about Mueller’s investigation even after agreeing to cooperate with the special counsel. #ctl #p2 #Maddow pic.twitter.com/Px7NubIZ06
— PoliticusUSA (@politicususa) November 28, 2018
We started yesterday with the news that prosecutors say Manafort broke their plea agreement. He lied to them so they’re rescinding the deal. Now we get the news that Paul Manafort, while he was supposedly cooperating with prosecutors, at the same time he was feeding information to the president about the investigation, including about his discussions with prosecutors and what prosecutors were asking him about when he was supposedly cooperating with them. First off, wow. Secondly, is that legal? Can you do that?
Manafort is still holding out for a presidential pardon
Clearly, in Manafort’s mind, it was more important to stay on the good side of Trump rather than investigators, which further indicates that he hopes all of this ends in a presidential pardon.
As the report pointed out, “Even if the pact was mostly informal at that point, law enforcement experts said it was still highly unusual for Mr. Manafort’s lawyers to keep up such contacts once their client had pledged to help the prosecutors in hope of a lighter punishment for his crimes.”
The Times added, citing former United States attorney Barbara McQuade, that Manafort “must have wanted to keep a line open to the president in hope of a pardon.”
“I’m not able to think of another reason,” she said, according to the report.
Clearly, the special counsel wasn’t about to be played by Manafort, which is why they tore the plea agreement to shreds after he was caught lying to them.
Ultimately, Manafort’s knows his only hope of being a free man is to get the president to wipe away his crimes with a pardon.