Former federal prosecutors say the collapse of Paul Manafort’s plea agreement with special counsel Robert Mueller is a loss for both sides in the Russia investigation. Mueller lost a key witness who was the head of Donald Trump’s campaign. On the other hand, Manafort can potentially face decades in prison. Mueller says he knows enough from investigating to abandon Manafort for constantly lying. Mueller has already charged Russian military intelligence officers with hacking Democratic computers to get emails.
A jury has already convicted Manafort of eight bank and tax charges in August for representing a pro-Russia faction in Ukraine. On the other hand, he’s a tainted witness after pleading guilty in September to conspiring to obstruct justice, for urging other witnesses to provide inaccurate accounts to investigators while he was in custody. Mueller ended Manafort’s cooperation for a more lenient sentence by saying he lied repeatedly.
Kendall Coffey weighed in on the situation saying, “He will face a markedly harsher sentencing outcome,”. He added, “One can only speculate if in the back of Manafort’s mind he still holds out hope for a pardon.”
Trump has continued to call Mueller’s 18-month investigation a “witch hunt” and insists there was no collusion between his campaign and Russia.
White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders stated Donald Trump only wants the investigation to end and doesn’t have any plans to get Mueller out of his position.
The Trump Tower meeting has been the focus in Mueller’s investigation. In June 2016, Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner and Manafort met with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya.
Trump Jr. admitted to digging for dirt on Clinton but says he did nothing wrong during the meeting. Currently, no one has been charged related to that meeting, but Manafort is a potential witness that was inside the room.
Coffey said, “The Russia meeting would have a major potential of blowing up cooperation if the government thought that Manafort was walking back earlier statements,”.