Paul Manafort got a deal to be a cooperator — but as the New York Times revealed the night before last, his cooperation was not with Robert Mueller, but Donald Trump:
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 the special counsel’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.
Rudolph W. Giuliani, one of the president’s personal lawyers, acknowledged the arrangement on Tuesday and defended it as a source of valuable insights into the special counsel’s inquiry and where it was headed. Such information could help shape a legal defense strategy, and it also appeared to give Mr. Trump and his legal advisers ammunition in their public relations campaign against Mr. Mueller’s office.
Prosecutors have now accused Manafort of repeatedly lying to them, and one wonders why someone in such dire circumstances would lie. I’m joking of course. The motive is clear. It rhymes with “harden” and begins with a “p.”
Manafort and Trump had operated under a joint defense agreement, but any privilege under that agreement could not exist once Manafort was facially cooperating, and Mueller can now seek to discover the substance of the conversations between Manafort’s and Trump’s lawyers.
Trump seems to be taking this all in stride, retweeting this delightful meme:
— The Trump Train 🚂🇺🇸 (@The_Trump_Train) November 28, 2018
This is the calm and unflappable Donald Trump we’ve all come to know and love. Note the presence of Rod Rosenstein in the picture. If you think Trump didn’t notice this, think again:
It was no accident that President Trump Wednesday retweeted an image of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein locked up.
When asked during an interview with The Post: “Why do you think he belongs behind bars?” Trump responded: “He should have never picked a Special Counsel.”
The Trump presidency: a constant exercise in seeing whether the last bizarre stunt can be topped. So far, the answer is always “yes.” How long can that go on?
[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]