The trial of Paul Manafort for long-ago allegations of criminal behavior is now underway. Manafort served a weeks-long stint in the presidential campaign of Donald Trump. He may as well have drawn a target on his back, his front, and all around his head. And because of his choosing to join the campaign, he is facing a 32-count indictment alleging he moved more than $30 million in overseas income to his U.S. accounts.
“These are serious charges,” anti-Trumpsters say, hoping against hope that something – anything – will lead to President Trump’s being exiled to a tiny island hundreds of miles from shore. However, the comment that the charges are serious is correct. More on that later.
But it’s more than just mildly relevant to note that the charges are unrelated to the Trump campaign, the principle members of which Special Counsel Robert Mueller has been trying to connect to law breaking for well more than a year, without success.
This pitifully inadequate result has not dampened the enthusiasm for the much hoped-for proof of criminal misconduct by the campaign among all those who still suffer from Mz. Hillary’s stunning, and prediction-defying defeat.
Here is a dose of reality for these champions of the highly flawed special counsel situation: “There really is no Mueller investigation without Manafort…take away Manafort and everything kind of flitters away,” explains Judicial Watch’s Tom Fitton.
As stated here before, anyone who takes on a high profile special counsel assignment like this one is either crazy, has a large ego, is very talented, or will resort to the gutter. The jury is still out on Mueller, as so far all he has are a bunch of indictments against foreigners who will never stand trial on them, and years-old accusations against Manafort and his associate, Rick Gates.
“Oh, that’s not correct,” you say. “Mueller’s managed to find out about Manafort’s crimes from years ago. That takes a real pro.”
Not so fast. Everything Mueller has on Manafort was known by the FBI way back when, so why wasn’t Manafort tried for those crimes then? Because the FBI lacked sufficient evidence to go to trial.
Here is the analysis of former New Jersey Superior Court Judge Andrew Napolitano: “Paul Manafort was investigated by the federal government by a team of federal prosecutors and FBI agents for all this stuff eight years ago and they exonerated him.”
Napolitano went on to identify the prosecutor going after Manafort back then as none other than the current Assistant Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who is in charge of this operation for the DOJ, due to the recusal of AG Jeff Sessions. And Napolitano also added this interesting possibility: “Well, now [Rosenstein] runs the Justice Department. And [defense attorneys] have threatened to call Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein as their first witness and have him give to the jury all the reasons why he declined the prosecution of these charges eight years ago.”
We also must not forget that it was Rosenstein who appointed Mueller as special counsel, and gave him a blank slate for what he was supposed to investigate, a blank check to pay for it, and no termination date. Rosenstein literally handed Manafort to Mueller on a silver platter, insufficient evidence and all.
Helping to illustrate just how open to abuse the special counsel mechanism really is, here is Harvard Law professor emeritus, life-long liberal Democrat, but objective legal expert, Alan Dershowitz: "They aren't interested in Manafort, they're interested in Manafort testifying against Trump or providing information," he told Fox News' "America's Newsroom."
"You have to worry not only about squeezed witnesses singing, but about them making up stories, elaborating on stories. The better the story, the better the deal they'll get."
U.S. District Court Judge T.S. Ellis, who is the judge on this case, agrees. “The vernacular is to 'sing,' is what prosecutors use. What you’ve got to be careful of is they may not only sing, they may compose,” Ellis said.
Former U.S. Attorney Joseph diGenova believes that Manafort cannot get a fair trial in D.C. on these charges because of the highly political nature of this case and the pervasive bias against President Trump.
“Paul Manafort cannot get a fair trial in the District of Columbia,” diGenova told host Laura Ingraham on “The Laura Ingraham Show” recently. “We now know from the Scooter Libby case and the interviews with jurors after that case that two-thirds of the jurors in the Scooter Libby case hated the president of the United States, hated Dick Cheney, wanted to know why Cheney wasn’t in the docket along with Scooter Libby.”
Is this the slime that “justice” in America has been dragged down into?
Manafort could spend the rest of his life in jail for alleged crimes the FBI knew it couldn’t prove way back when the charges were first brought, but with the actions of the special counsel, he might yet be convicted, despite the lack of evidence.
This is the nature of special counsels: Do what you must to convict your target. If that’s not possible find someone guilty of something, otherwise you will look bad.
This is politics at its worst.