Manafort's screwed; Trump's implicated; and parts of Mueller's investigation may become public
Back in September, Paul Manafort—Russian agent and former Trump campaign chair extraordinaire—accepted a plea deal that required him to divulge pretty much everything, to be on call to testify, and to cooperate generally. In return, special counsel Robert Mueller’s team offered a slight break on sentencing guidelines, a recommendation that his sentences from two different federal trial courts run concurrently, and a shield from additional charges, among other things. Mueller’s promises were conditioned on Manafort’s truthful cooperation.
Two months later, after “at least a dozen sessions interrogating [Manafort,]” Mueller has filed a formal status report alleging that Manafort has violated the plea agreement by lying to investigators. That’s a problem—for Manafort.
A breach relieves the government of any obligations it has under the agreement, including its agreement to a reduction in the Sentencing Guidelines for acceptance of responsibility, but leaves intact all the obligations of the defendant as well as his guilty pleas.
If proven, and that seems likely, Manafort’s post-plea lies release Mueller from his side of the bargain. He’s gotten Mueller to pull the trigger on sentencing, which is Mueller’s prerogative by the terms of this somewhat unusual agreement. Litigating those lies works against him—and President Donald Trump, as some constitute new crimes.