Trump Retreating Behind Multi-Pronged Argument As He Punches Back Against Criminal Convictions Of Once-Close Allies

Trump’s Tune On Twitter Goes Something Like This:

  1. Nobody did anything that rich people don’t do routinely anyway, and usually get away with. (Like cheating on your taxes or providing false information to get a loan or issuing fake invoices or paying off people who threaten to sue you).
  2. Obama did it too.
  3. None of it had anything to do with Russia.
  4. The jury could not decide “a large number of counts, ten” in Manafort’s trial, meaning it’s still fair to call his prosecution a “Witch Hunt”.

Trump on Manafort:

Trump on Cohen:

So Let’s Examine Trump’s Arguments One By One:

  1. This may be true, especially in Trump’s line of business, which is basically a huge mom-and-pop operation (or in this case father-and-children), with lots of cash flying around. As was Manafort’s consulting business. However, most people in these types of businesses have the sense not to thrust themselves into the public spotlight, or clean up before they do. Trump and his allies’ decision to continue to act with impunity is what’s biting them. Not their being “brave” figures deserving of “respect” as the President asserts in his Tweet. Manafort was dirty for years, yet was never deeply investigated, that’s true. At the same time it’s unfathomable (and should’ve been to obvious to him and Trump) to think that he wouldn’t be once he took on the chairmanship of Trump’s campaign.
  2. This is a crazy perversion of facts that would be summarily dismissed if it was made by anyone except Trump to his die-hards. Here’s an account of what happened from Reuters: Late donations came in to Obama’s campaign in 2008 and the campaign did not keep up with reporting. It was a tiny fraction of the money Obama raised and the only blemish on an otherwise squeaky clean election funding report. Also, and more importantly, Obama was not implicated in a scheme to use campaign contributions to pay off a porn star so she wouldn’t report he had an extramarital affair with her. Plus he didn’t then repeatedly lie about it.
  3. Yes, but Cohen’s lawyer has spent most of his time since his client’s guilty plea telling anyone who will listen that Cohen has a lot more talking he’s willing to do, including stuff directly related “to the computer crime of hacking and whether or not Mr. Trump knew ahead of time about that crime and even cheered it on”. That’d be directly related to Russia.
  4. Yes, the jury did not come to a verdict in 10 counts in the case against Manafort, although it delivered guilty verdicts on 8 felony counts. This isn’t a victory for Manafort. He could be retried on all 10 counts. The threat of a retrial could also be used to exert pressure on him. Trump’s stalwart near-deification of Manafort (compared to his utter trashing of Cohen) appears to speak directly to that possibility: that rewards await Manafort if he holds out. Of course, Trump is notoriously untrustworthy. So is someone Trump says he “barely knew” — even though he ran Trump’s Presidential campaign for months — willing to take that risk?

The White House stonewalled: answering virtually every question by saying the President “did nothing wrong; there are no charges against him”.

A closer look at the verdict in the Manafort case does seem to imply the jury did have problems with the testimony of Manafort’s former business partner and Trump campaign officer Rick Gates. We have no way of knowing this for sure, because identities of the jurors are secret, and none has come forward so far. At the same time, the charges on which Manafort was convicted seem to rely on Gates’ testimony the least (for instance, falsifying his tax returns). This could spell trouble if Mueller was planning on using Gates as a witness in other cases. Manafort’s defense team painted Gates — who admitted to embezzling huge amounts of money from Manafort (and possibly the Trump inauguration) — as the “real” criminal, arguing none of his testimony could be trusted.

Update: We now know quite a bit more about what went on in the jury room, and turns out our speculation (above) on the subject was dead on. Fox News spoke to one of the Manafort jurors, and she confirms what we guessed: that the jurors “agreed to throw out” the testimony of former Manafort partner Rick Gates, and base their decisions on the paperwork presented by the prosecution. The juror, Paula Duncan, said she’s an avid Trump supporter and drove to the trial every day with a “Make America Great Again” cap on the back seat of her car. She told Fox she really wanted Manafort to be innocent “but he wasn’t”. She says a single holdout on the jury prevented Manafort’s conviction on all counts; on the 10 hung counts, the vote was 11–1.