Playing The House: Why Manafort May Have Taken The Highest Risk Option

1531416683549Below is my column in the Hill newspaper on the Manafort trial and why Manafort is pursuing a high-risk litigation strategy over a plea deal.  The strategy looks strikingly like a pardon pitch and it could be working.  President Donald Trump took the rare step of commenting on a case at trial to not only praised Manafort but analogized his case to the treatment of Al Capone. He tweeted that “Looking back on history, who was treated worse, Alfonse Capone, legendary mob boss, killer and ‘Public Enemy Number One,’ or Paul Manafort, political operative & Reagan/Dole darling, now serving solitary confinement – although convicted of nothing? Where is the Russian Collusion?” Of course, both could well be guilty and both could find that a criminal count with a ten year sentence is just about the same as another in terms of its impact on your life.\

Here is the column:

Hunter Thompson once decried the fleeting fortunes of gamblers as “tomorrow’s blinking toads, dumb beasts with no hope.” Paul Manafort is about to discover if he is one of those “blinking toads.” The trial of the former Trump presidential campaign chairman in Virginia, on more than a dozen criminal counts of tax fraud, bank fraud and reporting violations, is about to begin. Rather than take a plea, Manafort has taken the gamble of a trial and the lingering chance of a pardon.

Manafort is in the worst possible legal position of having to “run the tables” by not only beating 18 counts in Virginia but then beating seven counts in a separate trial in Washington. He needs a sweep or nothing. That is quite a gamble and, frankly, Manafort is a bad bet. While he needs to beat all the charges, special counsel Robert Mueller needs only one conviction on one count to put Manafort away for as much as a decade.

That is what it means to “play the house.” The house usually wins. Right now, Las Vegas would give Manafort about the same odds of acquittal as it would give the Baltimore Orioles to win the World Series. Indeed, the one thing the Orioles, ranked worst in the MLB, have going for them is that people actually want them to win. That is not the case with Manafort, and that lack of empathy is likely to grow considerably in coming weeks with the expected witnesses at his trial.

The first challenge for the defense is that Manafort can be easily painted as someone who made millions off some of the most disreputable characters in the world. The more that jurors learn of Manafort, the less likely they are to find him relatable or likable. To the contrary, his lavish lifestyle will place a wide social and economic chasm between him and the jury. That is by design, as prosecutors know his lifestyle could leave jurors less inclined to give him the benefit of any doubt.

For that reason, they intend to call a myriad of minor witnesses, from a ticket vendor for the New York Yankees to a tailor to a Mercedes Benz salesman. Jurors will hear about his six homes, $2 million worth of antiques, a $500,000 landscaping bill, two silk rugs costing $160,000 and almost $1.5 million in clothes for himself. All of this is part of a lifestyle that seemed to be collapsing under its own weight, necessitating the alleged fraudulent efforts to secure nearly $25 million in bank loans.

This type of evidence invites class resentment and an unconscious desire to see an elitist fall. The legal chasm may be equally challenging. Jurors will be buried in a mountain of transactional and bank documents from numerous countries. Manafort is accused of hiding $30 million to evade U.S. taxes by using accounts in the United Kingdom, Cyprus and the Caribbean island nation of St. Vincent. Prosecutors claim he may have made more than $60 million in working for Ukrainian interests.

With multiple counts and such a daunting record, a jury often inclines to rely on prosecution witnesses. In this case, the witnesses will include Manafort’s former aide and confidant, Richard Gates. The combination of a less than sympathetic defendant, a tower of financial documents and a flipped former associate makes conviction on at least some of these counts a high likelihood. So why hasn’t Manafort sought a deal with Mueller? Well, several possible reasons exist.

First, Mueller might be a bit short on mercy. He is unlikely to cut a deal with Manafort that did not involve pleading guilty to at least one count. Mueller would have to clear counts in both Washington, D.C., and Virginia, and that could not be done easily with a walk-away plea. Any plea likely would put Manafort behind bars for years. At age 69, a 10-year sentence could be the same as life in prison. Moreover, most of these counts would run concurrently so, while even one conviction is enough to hold him for much of his remaining years, Manafort may not find a deal as attractive.

Second, unlike former Trump attorney Michael Cohen, Manafort still has hope for a pardon. If President Trump were to go nuclear in shutting down the special counsel investigation, he likely would issue a slew of pardons. At this point, he is more likely to pardon Hillary Clinton than Cohen, but Manafort has remained loyal and silent throughout the probe.

Finally, just as Mueller might not be able to give Manafort what he needs, Manafort might not have enough to offer Mueller. The problem with being the matinee defendant for the special counsel investigation is that a plea bargain is more costly to secure. Manafort would need deliverables on Trump, and he may not have them. Short of a quid pro quo understanding with the Russians, or confirmation of the president’s knowledge of the Trump Tower meeting with Russians that implicates Donald Trump Jr. and others, Manafort may not have a deliverable.

Trump was not known to be close to Manafort, though they had interactions going back years. In other words, Manafort may not have a “get out of jail” card to use against Trump or key figures. For any of these reasons, Manafort may simply view a deal as offering too little and risking too much. Conversely, a pardon could mean no jail time and a clean slate.

If Mueller convicts Manafort, it is likely to be celebrated as proof of the legitimacy of the special counsel investigation. In truth, it is not. Manafort’s charges have nothing to do with Mueller’s original mandate involving Russian collusion, obstruction or any of the allegations directed against the president. That does not make Manafort innocent, but this was not the game Mueller was supposed to be playing. Manafort still has a defense to present, so it is too early to declare him a loser. However, he is taking a gamble in not taking a plea. In playing against the house, his odds at trial are long and, if he ever comes up for sentencing, his credit is short.

Jonathan Turley is the Shapiro Professor of Public Interest Law at George Washington University. You can follow him on Twitter @JonathanTurley.

284 thoughts on “Playing The House: Why Manafort May Have Taken The Highest Risk Option”

  1. This post was placed under moderation so I am copying it with a change in spelling of some of the quoted stuff. I can’t help it if NYTimes employees use foul language.

    ‘How the NYTimes and its defenders have fallen deep into the dung heap. This should make our hypocritical fellow bloggers scream with joy.’

    “Get Whitey

    The New York Times sets a new standard for identity-politics hypocrisy.

    When it emerged yesterday that the Twitter feed of the New York Times editorial board’s latest appointee, Sarah Jeong, crackled with nasty and puerile racial invective, it was generally assumed by many—including her defenders—that she would be let go before the day was over. Jeong’s Twitter remarks were so over-the-top—calling white people “groveling goblins” whose pale skin should force them to live underground, like Morlocks; saying “#CancelWhitePeople”; and exulting in being “cruel” to old white people—that it seemed absurd that the venerable Times editorial board, of all places, would welcome the thumbs that tapped out such jejeune trash.

    But it turns out that Jeong is keeping her job, and that the Times knew about her comments when they hired her. “We had candid conversations with Sarah as part of our thorough vetting process,” the Paper of Record clarified, “which included a review of her social media history. She understands that this type of rhetoric is not acceptable at the Times.” Jeong herself explained that “as a woman of color on the internet, I have faced torrents of online hate.” Her comments, she said, cannot be construed as racist because they were “not aimed at a general audience, because general audiences do not engage in harassment campaigns.” The logic is twisted, but enlightening once you untangle it: Jeong’s explicitly racial insults were intended to “counter-troll” her white harassers, not all whites—many of whom, it is to be assumed, are fine people.

    This is the same logic, of course, that all racists use when someone calls them to account for their words. When celebrity television chef Paula Deen admitted in 2013 that she used the “N-word” once to describe a black man who held a gun to her head during a bank robbery, her naïve assumption that people would understand that she didn’t mean to impugn all blacks cost Deen her show and sponsorships. But as the Jeong Affair is making clear to anyone who hadn’t already noticed, different rules apply depending on who’s speaking, and to whom they’re speaking.

    Jeong calls herself “a woman of color on the internet”—surely a novel formulation of identity—and assumes a veil of protection from criticism based on this status. It’s hard to understand how a highly rewarded immigrant, whose family was embraced by the same country whose majority population she now denigrates, sees herself as a victim. Yet she does, and in fact, a supportive media narrative casts her as a double victim: first she was trolled by racists online, and now “far-right” activists and even “Nazis” are trying to get her fired. Jeong is not racist, her defenders say—on the spurious but now broadly held view that only whites can be—and even to pose the question, or refer critically to her tweets, or doubt the probity of the New York Times, suggests hatefulness.

    Just a day after Jeong’s anti-white twitter screeds were revealed and righteously defended, it emerged that she also dislikes law enforcement. After her jar of jam was seized by the TSA in 2016, she tweeted “Marionberry jam confiscated at the airport, fu-k the police,” presumably another instance of Jeong ironically occupying the position of the oppressor in order to undercut its hollow claims to authority. Last December, she again tweeted, “f-ck the police,” this time accompanied by a cartoon of a police officer being beaten by a samurai rodent; the context is opaque, but surely trenchant.

    Six months ago, the Times hired Quinn Norton to fill the “power, culture and consequences of technology” editorial role that Jeong now occupies, only to be dismissed that same afternoon when it turned out that she had once called someone a “fag-ot” on Twitter. So we have to take the Times at its word that it “thoroughly vetted” Jeong’s social media history. Might the paper have decided to go forward with her appointment anyway, not despite her white-hating tweets, but because of them? Jeong is a demonstration case of what can be acceptably said if you belong to the right kind of identity group—immigrant, racial minority, “woman of color on the internet.” For the New York Times, it appears, Jeong’s hatred of whites is not a drawback—it’s her qualification.

    Seth Barron is associate editor of City Journal and project director of the NYC Initiative at the Manhattan Institute.”

  2. “Manafort’s charges have nothing to do with Mueller’s original mandate involving Russian collusion, obstruction or any of the allegations directed against the president.” If Manafort hangs tough and does not compose against Trump, his resistance to the persecution will be respected by street fighter Trump and result in pardon.

    1. Possibly so. But then there’s an unsettled question in The Law as to whether a pardon recipient can retain his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination for the very offenses against the United States for which he received a pardon. Of course, The POTUS, Trump, would have to know ahead of time which offenses NOT to pardon so that Manafort could retain his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination on any offenses that might incriminate Trump, Trump Jr. or Jared Kushner. And that’s probably the main reason that Trump has not yet pardoned Manafort. You see, Manafort and Trump and pretty much everybody else in on the suspected conspiracy have a joint defense agreement that allows, amongst other thorny issues, for Trump to figure out what offenses NOT to pardon so that the pardon recipients will not lose their right NOT to incriminate Trump, Trump Jr. or Jared Kushner. That’s the not-too-secret meaning of what Giuliani said about [paraphrased] when this is all over we can clean it up with a few pardons [or words to that effect].

      1. Out? Is that moniker meant to mean out to lunch, out of the closet partisan or outright vacuous political rhetoric?

        You say, “You see, Manafort and Trump and pretty much everybody else in on the suspected conspiracy have a joint defense agreement.” That is a bold statement unless you have evidence?

        Try something simple and possibly logical. Manafort got rich while abusing K Street to access dishonest politicians. In the process of peddling access Manafort like other political consultants bent rules and accumulated huge sums money. That is a political story which dates back over one thousand years. he who has the gold rules goes back to ancient China.

        Mueller’s number two attorney is a jackass. His ethics history is well appreciated by judge Ellis. He is smart staying out of the Judges court.

        A three hundred years sentence makes Manafort look like a political victim. He will not be remembered as a tax evader if he dies in jail. Murderers in California go free because it fits a progressive political narrative? The federal law enforcement system looks more like the unethical politicians which is terrible.

        Pyrrhic victories are dangerous. Wait until the socialists party experiences the other side of this two edged sword. It always happens.

        Get the Manafort sentence done fast. Hope Manafort does not die in prison. Get rid of all the political prosecutors (leave bias in the “out”- house.

        1. I agree Manafort is coming off looking like a political martyr.
          He’s the molehill in front of the mountain range of Clinton corruption that the Clinton defense team, aka Mueller team, chooses not to see.

      2. A Manafort pardon would be clearly justified in most people’s eyes and enhance Trump’s popularity. And Manafort is playing his cards right not yapping and caving like rat/dirtylobbyist Cohen.

        1. You’re studiously ignoring the main point, Bill Martin. If Trump pardons Manafort for offenses that would also incriminate Trump, Trump Jr. and Jared Kushner, then Manafort’s testimony against them can be compelled without Manafort having flipped to become a cooperating witness for Mueller. It is imperative for Trump to learn and to know precisely and exactly which offenses for which to pardon Manafort and which offenses for which NOT to pardon Manafort. In order for Trump to achieve that imperative, jury verdicts must be returned against Manafort and the guilty verdicts, if any, compared to a list of potential charges not yet indicted about which Trump and his lawyers have already learnt through their joint defense agreement with Manafort that gives them access to all of Manafort’s many motions to suppress evidence, challenge search warrants, challenge the scope of the special counsel’s investigation as well as all of the normal pretrial discovery of evidence against Manafort.

          1. L4D still enables David Benson – let’s say that Manafort does prison time until Mueller closes his investigation, then gets a commutation or pardon.

          2. OMG Ms. Late: Trump would pardon Manafort for the tax case he is currently on trial for, not some fantasy Russia collusion. Manafort keeps mouth south and take Muler abuse like a man = pardon from Trump.

    1. You make a good point. Jon Turley has a good and fair legal mind when he chooses to you it. But at same time his blog comes across as the Jon Turkey Hype Machine in pursuit of clicks/eyeballs. You are right – he sure does like that Manafort mug shot.

  3. FWIW, I really enjoy reading Teaching Spastics To Dance’s comments. He calls it like he sees it. Some days he thinks I am a Genius of the Highest Order, and the next day he thinks I am a Reprehensible Twat. Which, is just a person being real and honest. Anyway, he gave some advice to Peter Shill, and it was sooo good, that I have put it into my word processor, and named it, so that everyone can copy and paste it! Enjoy!

    Shill Indicia
    by Teaching Spastics To Dance

    1. Don’t present glossed Bezos Birdcage Liner oppo as if it were something anyone should take seriously.

    2. Demonstrate you have a personal perspective. Do this without contrivance. It’s easy to spot an Olly post and differentiate it from one of Allan’s or Paul’s.or Mespo’s.

    3. Don’t say blatantly false things.

    4. Don’t invest in the day’s disinformation.

    5. Don’t cut / paste text from peddlers of the day’s disinformation.

    And people will stop calling you ‘Shill’.

    Squeeky Fromm
    Girl Reporter


    CHICAGO — Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein seemed relaxed on Thursday during a gathering of his legal peers here for the American Bar Association’s annual meeting. A standing ovation that lasted well over a minute might have played a role.

    Rosenstein didn’t say a word about recent Republican efforts to impeach him. Nor did he utter the name Robert Mueller, the special counsel whose investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election he is overseeing.

    But both issues hung in the air as the deputy attorney general spoke at length about the rule of law and the seriousness of foreign meddling.

    He managed to sound sanguine while mentioning President Donald Trump, who has shown irritation at Rosenstein’s allowing Mueller to continue the inquiry for more than a year.

    “President Trump selected a superb team of skilled and principled lawyers to lead the Department of Justice and our U.S. Attorney’s Offices,” Rosenstein said, adding, “Our decisions do not please all the people all the time — in case you haven’t noticed.”

    The line prompted a roar from the crowd, along with more applause.

    Edited from: “Rosenstein: ‘I Think Informing The American People Is An Important Part Of Deterrence'”

    Today’s POLITICO

    1. Teaching Spastics To Dance had some really good advice for you on the other thread, but it had gotten sooo skinny you probably ignored it. Let me offer it to you again:

      “You didn’t solicit advice, but I’m giving it to you anyway.

      1. Don’t present glossed Bezos Birdcage Liner oppo as if it were something anyone should take seriously.

      2. Demonstrate you have a personal perspective. Do this without contrivance. It’s easy to spot an Olly post and differentiate it from one of Allan’s or Paul’s.or Mespo’s.

      3. Don’t say blatantly false things.

      4. Don’t invest in the day’s disinformation.

      5. Don’t cut / paste text from peddlers of the day’s disinformation.

      And people will stop calling you ‘Shill’.”

      Squeeky Fromm
      Girl Reporter

      1. Not a surprise that the usual suspects would turn out in opposition of a high-brow talk about the importance of the rule of law. Your ilk would love to just snatch and grab armloads of white sheets; gotta be a bitch keeping them clean when cavorting through the mud with the other hillbillies.

        this is to squeeKKK

        1. Marky Mark Mark – you are forgetting that the Democrats are the party of the KKK and Jim Crow. Keep them on the plantation! That is the cry of the Democrats to blacks and Hispanics.

          1. Paul:

            Blacks, Hispanics and Asians are partners in the Democratic party. There are 145 Black Superdelegates, 77 Hispanics and 21 Asians plus 296 Women of all ethnic groups. The GOP has nowhere near that level of diversity.

            Therefore this fantasy that Blacks long to become Republicans is a symptom of delusional thinking. Seriously! Republicans keep scheming Voter I.D. laws to cut Black turnout. Republicans keep threatening to cut safety nets. They want work requirements for Medicaid and Food Stamps. Those are efforts to punish poor Blacks.

            But Republicans won’t consider boosting the minimum wage. Republicans are hostile to unions and Obamacare. Trump is trying to repeal virtually everything Obama did. Trump was questioning Obama’s legitimacy nine and a half years ago.

            And more recently Trump foisted himself on the NFL’s national anthem squabble. His comments in that capacity are clearly hostile to Black players. Like Trump’s comments on Charlottesville seemed calculated to alienate Blacks.

            So again this idea that Democrats are holding Blacks hostage on some symbolic plantation is absolutely preposterous. It means you’ve been following right-wing media way, way too long. And you’re starting to believe the nonsense they feed you.

            1. Peter Hill – if they don’t want to kept them on the plantation, why do the ones who run away keep being called Uncle Toms?

                1. Peter Hill – every black who runs off the plantation is to be destroyed. Those are the rules. However, the new #WalkAway movement is not just blacks leaving the plantation, it is also whites, browns, and yellows. Like gays who emboldened others by coming out of the closet, this movement is doing some damage to the Democratic Party. I am not sure it is going to change any elections in the midterm, but I know that it is making the Party nervous. They are already condemning the #WalkAway movement and the people.

            2. “Unfortunately, the real minimum wage is always zero, regardless of the laws, and that is the wage that many workers receive in the wake of the creation or escalation of a government-mandated minimum wage, because they lose their jobs or fail to find jobs when they enter the labor force. Making it illegal to pay less than a given amount does not make a worker’s productivity worth that amount—and, if it is not, that worker is unlikely to be employed.” __Thomas Sowell

              I don’t know what hate Peter Shill must have for blacks, other minorities, and the poor to speak with such ignorance.

            3. “Republicans keep scheming Voter I.D. laws to cut Black turnout.”

              So blacks are too stupid to get ID.

      2. Gee, Squeeky, does Professor Turley have a list of acceptable news sources? I get confused.

        You see i’ve following news very closely for 40 plus years. And I can easily tell which sources are worthwhile. So I don’t get what the hassle is. If our president is liar who keeps calling every news source ‘fake’, it seems like he’s the problem and not the sources.

        Furthermore, why would I takes advice from someone who calls herself ‘Spastic’? And why would I listen to someone who takes her name from a Charles Manson disciple????


        Confused in L.A.

        1. “Furthermore, why would I takes advice from someone who calls herself ‘Spastic’? And why would I listen to someone who takes her name from a Charles Manson disciple???? ”

          Uh, because if you are just stupid, as opposed to being a shill, then you could learn from us how to be smarter! (Including learning how to spell!) If, on the other hand, you are just a shill, as I suspect, then you aren’t going to let any evidence or facts whatsoever alter your narrative, anymore than Joseph Goebbels would admit that bombed out German cities didn’t mean the Nazis were losing the war.

          I guess it depends on whether you are truly “Confused in L.A.” or if your your real status is more properly “Shilling in L.A.”

          Squeeky Fromm
          Girl Reporter

          1. You’re questioning if the ABA really gave Rosenstein a standing ovation..??

            Or it annoys you that the ABA gave Rosenstein a standing ovation..??

            Or it annoys you that I would puncture your right-wing bubble by noting that lawyers from around the country applauded a man Trump hates..??

            1. I am sure that peer pressure has many people applauding Rosenstein, because they are afraid to come out as a Trump supporter.

              I work for an attorney part time, and she thinks Rosenstein has a horrible conflict of interest.

              Squeeky Fromm
              Girl Reporter

              1. “I work for an attorney part time, and she thinks Rosenstein has a horrible conflict of interest.”

                He does and one doesn’t have to be an attorney to recognize that. Arms-length: adj. the description of an agreement made by two parties freely and independently of each other, and without some special relationship, such as being a relative, having another deal on the side or one party having complete control of the other. It becomes important to determine if an agreement was freely entered into to show that the price, requirements, and other conditions were fair and real. Example: if a man sells property to his son the value set may not be the true value since it may not have been an “arm’s length” transaction.

            2. Or it annoys you that the ABA gave Rosenstein a standing ovation..??

              The ABA is a corrupted professional association. There’s a reason Eisenhower’s policy of having ABA committees evaluate judicial nominees was abandoned. See James Lindgren’s statistical analysis of the behavior of such committees.

      3. Squeeky – I let this go the first time, but now I have to ask. How can you tell it is my post?

          1. Squeeky – you posted or reposted a comment that one could tell my comments from some others. I was wonder how. 🙂

            1. That was Teaching Spastics to Dance who was admonishing Peter Shill about being a shill, and just parroting the latest DNC talking points as opposed to being a real and sincere commenter who posted their actual thoughts and ideas. Thus, someone like you or me is different from the shill parroting types. It was a compliment. I am not sure how he figures out it is you. It could be that the “Paul C Schulte” name is a giveaway, or the sometimes wry nature of your comments. 🙂

              Squeeky Fromm
              Girl Reporter

              1. Yeah, Paul, I”m supposed to be a Trump supporter in order to comment here. And lately Squeaky, Spastic and Allan have tried to badger me off this thread.

                They think this blog should be a safe space for Trumpers. And it drives them ballistic that I keep puncturing their bubble. So they finally had enough and decided to dog me with ‘white noise’; endless hectoring wherever I might comment.

                And absurdly Spastic has Squeaky thinking Republicans hold some moral high ground. This special place where they hate everyone Trump hates.

                Trumpers define themselves with hatred. The mainstream media, Justice Department, CIA and FBI, coastal elitists, California, Mexico, NATO and the G 7 are all enemies of Donald Trump. Trumpers must hate them all.

                But Evangelicals are happy with Trump. So that, apparently, bestows moral authority.

                1. Peter Hill – this is a safe place for everyone as long as they do not attack anyone else. Once you start doing that it is open season.

                2. Mr. Hill, George, of all people, has a saying, “When you’re catching heavy flack, you’re directly over the target. Bombs away.”

                  I heartily recommend that particular adage of George’s device over the alternative proffered by Spastics and endorsed by Fromm–neither of whom are any more capable of following Paul’s advice than is Paul, himself.

                  1. L4D still enables David Benson – when is the last time you made a neutral comment?

                    1. Peter Hill – I would not go to L4D for confirmation, she doesn’t even read the links she posts, which is why I stopped reading them.

                3. “Yeah, Paul, I”m supposed to be a Trump supporter in order to comment here. And lately Squeaky, Spastic and Allan have tried to badger me off this thread.”

                  We don’t want you to be a Trump supporter. We just don’t want you to be stupid and act like a shill. We have no problems with debating alternate political theories, but your type of debate is counterproductive and leads nowhere.

                  Most of your comment was pure stupidity.

                4. Huh??? I don’t want to run you off the site. Because I pretty much just ignore you. I do wish you would quit being a shill, and be an honest person when you comment, and stop being a DNC parrot. Not for my sake, because I stopped reading most of what you post when I discovered you were just a shill. But, for your sake because that would help you be a better person and one who could eventually #walkaway.

                  Squeeky Fromm
                  Girl Reporter

  5. Follow the money?


    Follow the power.

    How did Jeff Sessions, agent of the “deep state” “swamp,”

    as the tip-of-the-spear of the Obama coup d’etat,

    engineer a criminal “malicious prosecution” of

    an innocent and duly elected sitting President?

    Lisa Page to Peter Strzok,”…POTUS wants to know everything we’re doing.”

    Lisa Page to Congress, “…the texts mean what the texts say.”

    Man of the Decade.

    Man of the Century.

    Attorney General Jeff Sessions, “…a dupe which will live in infamy.”

    1. I still don’t understand how you figure Obama has any ability to direct or influence Sessions.

    1. You ignored these significant portions of your cite.

      The median loss resulting from the offenses was calculated to be $218,035. [Manafort is way over this amount.]
      Astoundingly, more than 90% of the offenses “involved tax losses of $1.5 million [Manafort is way over this amount.] or less.” (While “less” is not defined, it is notable that, by comparison, only 25.9% of the offenses caused losses below $100,000.)
      What percentage of convicted offenders received enhanced penalties, and why?

      In general, penalty enhancements were more common than penalty reductions. For example, penalties were increased for offenders who:
      Led or supervised the offense (6.3% of offenders). [Check.]
      Obstructed justice, or otherwise impeded the investigation or case (5.3%). [Check]
      Used “sophisticated means” to hide or carry out the offense (11%). [Check.]
      Used a special skill, or “abus[ed] a public position of trust” (4.1%).

      So I think Manafort is looking at a 10 year minimum.

      1. Chinagate, more than any other scandal, should have led to the impeachment, and removal, of Bill Clinton from office. At least six individuals were believed to have been used by the Chinese to influence the 1996 elections.

        Biz partner of a key ChiCom Clinton financier was a ChiCom “princeling” and Lieutenant colonel in the People’s Liberation Army.

        Etc etc….

        And this Spectator piece doesn’t even go back to their earlier intercourse with ChiCom agent Charlie Tried going back to the late ’70s.

        Chinagate and the Clintons

    1. Just imagine, an ethnic immigrant community is both a source of power for a politician catering to them, and also a threat. or not, because, well, it’s china and they are good, russians bad.

      well, just imagine. but diversity is our greatest strength!

  6. In theory it is the agenda for your legislative goals so there is that. And tRumper keeps his promises unless you are his (ex) wives or contractors. All his wives were contractors when you think about it.

    1. there is an economic aspect of any marriage and only those who havent been married tend to make fun of that



    In a rare White House briefing room appearance, Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats, FBI Director Christopher A. Wray, Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen, National Security Agency Director General Paul Nakasone and National Security Adviser John Bolton on Thursday insisted their boss was fully aware of the threat of Russian interference in the midterms and was insistent everyone do whatever was needed (minus any additional funding, I suppose) to secure the election.

    Things got dicey when Coats was pressed on the disconnect with his boss:

    Q: Let me take you back, if I could, to Helsinki. The President seemed to indicate that he may believe Vladimir Putin, when he says he doesn’t — didn’t have any influence in the 2016 election. What is your belief about the Russian government involvement in meddling in 2016? And if, as you say, Russia continues to try to influence our electoral process, does that mean that nothing much came of the meeting with Putin? Or is it other-than-government actors who are involved here?

    DIRECTOR COATS: Well, in relationship to the 2016 election — of course, none of us were in office at that particular time — but both the President, the Vice President, and I think everyone on this stage has acknowledged the fact that the [Intelligence Community Assessment] was a correct assessment of what happened in 2016.

    We have subsequently made the determination to make this a top priority, that it doesn’t happen again. And we’re throwing everything at it. And we will have and will be discussing that here today.

    Relative to my discussions with the President on whatever issue it is, those — I do not go public with that. I don’t think that’s the right — the proper thing to do. So our focus here today is simply to tell the American people: We acknowledge the threat, it is real, it is continuing, and we’re doing everything we can to have a legitimate election that the American people can have trust in.

    Then it was Wray’s turn:

    Q: Thank you. I have a question for Director Wray. Thank you. Special Counsel Robert Mueller has indicted more than 20 Russian officials based on work by the FBI for meddling in the 2016 elections.

    Now the President has tweeted that that investigation by the Special Counsel is a hoax and should be shut down. I know you’ve said that you don’t believe it is a hoax. But why would the American people believe what you’re saying about the FBI when the President says that the investigation by the Special Counsel is a hoax, and when the Press Secretary, yesterday, said that there was a lot of corruption within the FBI? Do you have any response to those statements coming from the White House?

    DIRECTOR WRAY: Well, I can assure the American people that the men and women of the FBI, starting from the Director all the way on down, are going to follow our oaths and do our jobs.

    Once more, Coats and then Bolton had to play defense:

    Q: — and perhaps Ambassador Bolton could weigh in this as well. But in the run-up to the Helsinki Summit, U.S. officials, ambassadors to NATO, ambassadors to Russia said that the President would raise the issue of malign activity with President Putin. But he didn’t discuss that, at least, at the press conference.

    You’re saying, today, that the President has directed you to make the issue of election meddling a priority. How do you explain the disconnect between what you are saying — his advisors — and what the President has said about this issue?

    DIRECTOR COATS: I’m not in a position to either understand fully or talk about what happened at Helsinki.

    In a rally in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., Trump declared, “In Helsinki, I had a great meeting with Putin. We discussed everything. … We got along really well. By the way, that’s a good thing, not a bad thing. Now we’re being hindered by the Russian hoax — it’s a hoax, OK?”

    No matter how hard Coats, Wray, Bolton and others sidestep or try to put words in Trump’s mouth, Trump never fails to embarrass them and communicate his true feelings. He has never accepted that he got elected with Russian help, and he is not about to make a personal, all-out-push to stop it in 2018.

    Edited from: “Trump’s Anti-Putin Advisors Are Hung Out To Dry Again”


    1. it’s possible that they did act to disrupt the election, but the meddling was inconsequential and trivial in the grand scheme of things, and that people who are sore about Hillary losing are amplifying it to exonerate her for her failed electoral effort, and to undermine the President who is taking a direction they do not like.

      not only possible but what a lot of us out here think and that’s what we also believe the POTUS is saying

      at the same time the intel people need to stay vigilant and are not in a position to downplay it, even if the POTUS is

      not a problem

      1. The sum of expenditures by campaign committees and superpacs for the Marco Rubio was about $80 million, for John Kasich about $40 million, and for Gary Johnson about $13 million. Mueller says the Russian scamsters spent $1.25 million on Facebook ads, so you can see it really was decisive. Convinces Peter Shill and Late4Yoga / anonymous / R. Lien.

        1. That should almost be too embarrassing for the Dems to admit. Hillary spent nearly $2 Billion !! on her campaign where she “won” the popular vote, had most of the MSM in her corner, Hollywood, celebrities, rockstars, superstar athletes, late night comedy shows, SNL, plus Michelle and Barack campaigning for her, and yet she still lost the Electoral College vote because of Huma Abedin’s pervert husband’s laptop, James Comey, and a measly million dollars of Facebook ads by Russian bots? That’s just pathetic.

      2. Kurtz: Fox just loves people like you–the constant pivoter, willing to believe literally anything favorable to Trump For instance: first, there was no meddling. Vlad says so, so who cares what Coats, Wray or anyone else thinks. Second, well, if there was meddling, so what? It was inconsequential and trivial. That’s not true, either. Don’t you want to know what the Russians have on Trump? Doesn’t it bother you that a hostile foreign country, run by a dictator who murders his opponents, is trying to influence the outcome of American elections? Did you know that yesterday Trump eased sanctions on a Russian company with ties to Putin? Don’t you want to know why?

        1. no i think they did meddle, and they do as a matter of course, part of their regular espionage activies, and the US does too

          the question is not do they have spies and their spies do bad things, of course., that is what spies do.

          the question is, was it consequential enough, to prevent diplomacy between two nuclear armed super powers who can destroy civilization not only through intentional war but even just by accident

          the importance of diplomacy with russia can’t be underestimated and the alleged fact that they bought a bunch of FB ads is really not a big deal.

          or they had sockpuppets and bots online. trust me the US intel community INVENTED online fakery. who invented TOR browser?

          1. Oh, so now we’re pivoting to praise Trump for diplomacy with his butt buddy Vlad? Russia is no more eager to destroy the planet than America is, and they know that if they accidentally or intentionally launched anything, retaliation would be on the way before any warhead even came close to hitting American soil. Trump is neither bright, nor is he a diplomat, as he’s proven time and again. He is beholden to Russian oligarchs because American banks won’t lend him money due to his multiple business failures. That’s just one reason why he won’t disclose his tax returns. Russia meddled so they could install Trump because he is beholden to them. Just yesterday, he eased sanctions on a Russian company with ties to Vlad. He was deferential to Vlad in Helsinki, publicy professing to believe him over his own Administration officials. That ought to shock and upset you, but because you have the Fox pinwheels turning in your eyes at the mere mention of Trump, it doesn’t for some reason. That’s what shocks me.

            1. first off I have made this point about 20 times here
              it’s a basic one that should concern us all


              I notice a lot of people are only concerned about certain war-mongers and if there is a peace or diplomatic initiative taken by someone they do not like then the issue goes away!

              secondly i almost never watch tv let alone fox so that is not one of my “influencers” sorry

      3. Note how the continual equivocation. One minute it’s “hacking” (well debunked), now “meddling,” and the next minute it’s “influence.” OMG RUSSIANS HAVE THE DEADLY WEAPON OF SPEECH …. AND THEY USED IT!

      4. Funny how the wackjob Putinistas who once salivated about nuking Russia are now twisting themselves into pretzels to minimize the damage that the Putin Regime is doing to our elections, Republic, polity and morale. Of course, the Putinistas are ecstatic that their day glo bozo is the one who got the help, as none of them actually believed such a buffoon could con so many others. When the time comes to answer for their hatred of America to the borderline of treason, what will the Putinistas’ excuses be?

        this is to “I don’t really stand for anything, so I’ll fall for everything” kurtzie

        1. The Putinistas are this year’s Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, grasping at straws, making up shit, engaging in constant denial, ignoring the truth, etc.

          1. for the record I have no problem with the exigent circumstances that caused John Kerry to have to kill a VC prisoner. I am not sure if that is what Swift boat whatever was all about or not.

            I personally consider that Kerry was a better Secretary of State than Hillary.

          2. The Swift Boat Veterans made nothing up. No amount of bluster by their detractors can change that.

              1. A blurb from an article by M.T.Owens on J. Kerry where the basic facts are not at issue.

                “What seems to offend the Swifties, as well as other Vietnam veterans, is that after having made his political debut as an anti-Vietnam War activist, Kerry is now playing the hero, pointing to his Vietnam service as the reason he should be president, and campaigning with his “band of brothers.” This is hypocrisy of the highest order. As I said on National Review Online back in January,

                If he believes his 1971 indictment of his country and his fellow veterans was true, then he couldn’t possibly be proud of his Vietnam service. Who can be proud of committing war crimes of the sort that Kerry recounted in his 1971 testimony? But if he is proud of his service today, perhaps it is because he always knew that his indictment in 1971 was a piece of political theater that he, an aspiring politician, exploited merely as a “good issue.” If the latter is true, he should apologize to every veteran of that war for slandering them to advance his political fortunes.

                The Swifties, like most other Vietnam veterans, don’t care for the stench of Kerry’s hypocrisy.”

                1. God forbidd we should consider the hypocrisy of Bush, Cheney, Trump, Pence, McConnell, Ryan, et al.

                  1. hollywood – I am with you there. How can we forget how the IC screwed up on the 2nd Iraq War.

                  2. Hollywood, hypocrisy is everywhere. It’s just that John Kerry, along with all his other faults, has a lot more of it. There is a lot of hypocrisy on the blog when people refuse to recognize when the news is outright lying to promote a story that isn’t true and they repeat it as “ammunition” knowing that it isn’t even true..

                    Look at the WP story on what Trump called a hoax that Peter Shill provided for us. The WP said that in the rally Trump called Russian interference in our election a hoax. That was an outright lie and represented a large article appearing, I believe, on the first page.

                    The truth is that the WP took what Trump said out of context. He was talking about accusations that he was involved in a Russian conspiracy and called that a hoax. Peter Shill ate that article up and you probably did as well. You probably even repeat that type of nonsense. That is hypocrisy.

              2. Dr. Corsi wasn’t ‘behind’ the Swift Boat Veterans. He was a collaborater with them in producing a book about Kerry’s service. The man who organized the Swift Boat Veterans was John O’Neill, a Texas trial lawyer who had been an intermittent critic of Kerry for 30-odd years.

                The deficiencies in Kerry’s service record would be in most circumstances something undertaken (and of interest) to his peers: VietNam combat veterans (most particularly those who served in that venue). The thing is, Kerry built a public career for himself on the basis of that service and it was a crucial component of his sales pitch at three crises in that career. His boatmates have been willing to assist him, with one notable exception, but for the most parts others who were there have been his detractors.

                What rankled at the time is that the Associated Press, The New York Times, the Boston Globe, and The New Republic stooped to outright lying and six-degrees-of-separation BS in an attempt to refute the Swift Boat Veterans and ruin their reputations. The vermin in the liberal media said out of one side of their mouth that it was outrageous to unpack and examine Kerry’s service record while other reporters were demanding George W. Bush’s press office requisition copies of the microfiche images of his 1972 and 1973 pay stubs and CBS News aired a smear job about his time in the National Guard which relied on forged documents. (I’m not persuaded Dan Rather knew they were forged ex ante, but Mary Mapes sure did, and Rather doubled and tripled-down ever after).

        2. i can only speak for myself. I have never wanted to “nuke” anybody, let alone Russia. I have Russian friends here and in Russia. You can call me a bot or spy if you like but I am a person who does not wish for nuclear war, ever.

          As for the only use of nuclear weapons in war it was done by the US against the Japanese and was perhaps, more strategic vis a vis coming geopolitical conflict with Russia than it was about ending the war with “the Japs” the reviled enemy of yesterday. (then Russia was our ally, then our enemy, then our “ally in the “GWOT,” now the designated enemy du jour again)

          I would observe that the US and Allies also caused massive civilian casualties with terror bombing of Tokyo, Dresden, Hamburg, and many other cities.

          That’s what the US did. Russia by contrast took about 18 million deaths in the war against the Axis, far far more than “US” not that anybody learns such facts in school anymore.

          1. Mr. Kurtz,…
            – I mentioned this a couple of years ago, but I’ll bring it up again in reference to your comment.
            “Dutch van Kurk ( I’m not sure that I got the name right) was the last surviving member of the Enola Gay crew.
            He was active into his 90s, an excellent subject for interviews, and made presentation s at schools, clubs, etc.
            During the introduction at one school, a teacher introduced him as “a veteran of World War Eleven”.
            I have some other examples of “gaps” in “learning facts” about basic history in our schools, but I’ll stop with this one.

            1. Tom Nash – I had a history teacher open her section on World War Eye Eye.

        3. The “Putin Regime” LOL

          as usual the American expansionists like to pretend that our precious elections are the only legit ones and that nothing bad ever happens here etc etc

          or for that matter that the biggest “Foreign meddler” in “elections” in the 20th century was the
          drum roll please

          The United States

          normally it would be leftists point this sort of thing out but I guess they all went to sleep under Obama

          1. that the biggest “Foreign meddler” in “elections” in the 20th century was the
            drum roll please The United States

            No, only in the imagination of palaeotwerps and red haze nose pickers, who are alike in that they contribute nothing of value to public discussion.

              1. here is a description of US government social media troll army operations from back in 11

                No, there is the issue of The Guardian‘s imagination, about which cue Mandy Rice-Davies.

          2. A few true believer leftists with actual morals and principles other than merely getting control of the levers of power did keep the flame burning during the Eight Years of Darkness. Mainly they were found supporting Sanders in the primary. After that betrayal via Clinton/DNC collusion and meddling, not a few of them crossed over to vote Trump. Those are the kind of leftists actually supporting the fraud lawsuit against the despicable DNC.

            1. Whatever tricks the DNC pulled, Sanders didn’t have the votes. That’s a pity for the Democratic Party because he was actually a better candidate and would likely have defeated Trump and had better-than-even odds against Ted Cruz.

        4. as for morale speak for yourself. I have no problem admitting I like Putin and I like Trump.
          I think a lot of people just hate them because they are strong leaders and not just weak figureheads like the putz Geo Bush Jr or Obama.

          One good thing I will say about FDR, he was a real leader
          one might even say the same of the ruthless, byzantine, bellicose LBJ

          Hillary is weak sauce compared to them.

          My idea of an admirable first lady is Eva Peron

          1. Eva Peron wasn’t admirable. Weirdly charismatic, and in a way that was a wretched distraction to Argentines and damaged the country’s political culture.

            Public discourse in this country has been a function of media manufactured sh!tstorms for about 50 years now. Trump says what he thinks and doesn’t issue canned apologies. He pays no particular deference to the media’s mascot groups. They react with insensate rage. They’re like the Wicked Witch melting. Read some of Nutchacha’s posts and you can almost smell it. They cannot control the public discourse if Republican politicians stop apologizing. The mediocrities on Captiol Hill haven’t the stones for this yet. NB, the efforts of the tech wing of the Anointed to obstruct public discourse reflects a sense on the part of that segment of society that they’ve lost control, a control they thought was theirs by right.

            Bush wasn’t a ‘putz’, but he did refuse to defend himself. Fat lot of good that did him.

            1. I regret to inform you that your post assumes facts which are manifestly not in evidence. The day glo bozo does not “think” in the way that you perhaps wish to believe. He has confessed on many occasions that he is a “gut” guy; a simple review of the nonsense he spews at one of his “rallies” is dispositive on this matter.

              this is to “true, but he’s an old white guy who can be manipulated by the klan-wannabees near him” spaz

          2. You really should be able to answer your own reply. Your “morale” as one of the lonely 38% matters not at all. I’m speaking of American patriots who are rational and are cognizant of the danger posed by the Putinistas and the day glo bozo. The fact that you don’t see or feign being unable to see the danger merely marks you as one of the marks.

            this is to “and I also never win a prize at the carnival” kurtzie

            1. Did you see the latest Rasumussen polls?

              Trump’s approval ratings among black voters: 29%. This time last year: 15%

              Trump’s overall approval: 50%.

              Same time in his presidency, Obama’s approval was 45%.

              1. We’re not as dumb as the Demoocrats assume we are.
                In the months after the election, I was pleasantly surprised that other blacks who I randomly encountered on the south side of Chicago were either positive toward Trump or expressed the need to give him a chance. This included women and men.
                I’m not exactly from the street but I had to associate with a lot of people who were. One of my favorite episodes was sitting in a homeless shelter next to one of the clients, also black – and across from two other volunteers, who were 30something white women. The conversation somehow got onto Trump.It was us two black men arguing that he’s the president and we need to let him be the president — vs two white women shrieking hysterically how much they hate him.

                1. That is a great real life example. Trump’s approval rating with black voters has nearly doubled from 15% one year ago to 29% today. No wonder Democrats and the media are going into overdrive with their nonstop anti-Trump negative news coverage.

                2. David Harrell – I think Diamond and Silk are changing some minds in the black community.

    2. How do Democrats explain Hillary getting a few million more votes? How did Russian “interference” give Trump an Electoral College landslide while giving Hillary the “popular vote”?

      And why did the Obama administration sit on the information they had about Russian “meddling” in the election?

      1. OK, TBob, here’s a reality check. There was no Electoral College “landslide”. Not even close. This is a consistent lie Trump tells because of his mental illness. He needs to believe that he is superior, because deep down inside, he’s just a scared little boy with ADD who blusters and lies a lot. Russians understand what divides this country, how to weaponize social media and they targeted social media messages to give Trump an advantage. They’re still doing this–claiming that Democrats are “socialists”, that they oppose immigration reform (which they don’t–they oppose caging innocent children and denying people legitimately seeking asylum the right to be heard).

        Why didn’t Obama act? Simply because if he did, he would be accused of being motivated by politics. He has said so, and you know that whatever he would have done, he would be accused of ulterior motives.

        1. he would be accused of being motivated by politics.

          Sztrok, Page, the Ohrs, McCabe, Brennan, &c were motivated by politics. Sorry to break it to you.

          1. Your tactic stolen from hannity that “a lie repeated often enough becomes true” doesn’t work here amongst rational, sentient humans. So sorry for your loss. Pro tip: merely because you’re easily conned and confused does not mean all other are, as well.

            this is to “I just regurgitate what other wackjobs screech” spaz

            1. tactic stolen from hannity that “a lie repeated often enough becomes true”

              poor Hitler, he usually gets the credit for that. hannity has eclipsed him as a bad guy.

        2. finally we agree on a trump slight. i think he does have ADD.

          then again a lot of powerful people who have it, have learned to use their limitations to their own advantage

          if you have add in the family like I do then that is what you try and do, not just be crippled by it, but learn to use the cognitive difference as an opportunity

          did you know Bush Sr has dyslexia? Walt Disney did too.

          i think you are most uncharitable towards DJT who is an accomplished businessman and impressive leader by any measure even if you hate the guy

          1. Obvious “ADHD” case. Many great leaders have that collection of traits. It’s part of what drives their creativity and drives them to leadership.

        3. I see, so the “Russians” spent about a million bucks to target certain “social media audiences” on Facebook in all the right states that would swing just enough votes to give Trump the Electoral College win, while at the same time giving Hillary a few million more of the “popular vote.”

          Then Obama sat on and did nothing about “Russian meddling” at the time he knew it was happening b/c he didn’t want to appear to be politically motivated? But at the same time he was overseeing the politicization of his intel agencies against the Trump campaign?

          And this is why Trump won. Got it.

          1. You should hear their alternative story — which “investigative journalist” Greg Palast has been peddling the last year and a half: Hillary really won the electoral vote too, but the horrible Republikkklans stole it by throwing Democrats off the voter rolls, or hacking the machines, or something like that.

            1. Greg Palast? Have not heard of him. He sounds like a TDS head case, but I’ll check him out.

        4. There was no Electoral College “landslide”. Not even close.

          Let’s see now: Let’s say Clinton was 95% favored to win by a margin of 118 electoral votes. In reality, Trump wins with 304 to 227. In October, Reuters had the following:

          If the election were held this week, the project estimates that Clinton’s odds of securing the 270 Electoral College votes needed to win the presidency at more than 95 percent, and by a margin of 118 Electoral College votes. It is the second week in a row that the project has estimated her odds so high.

          Trump goes from a 5% chance of winning to victory and flips the electoral count by 195 votes. That’s not an avalanche, that’s a pyroclastic flow. Here is actual video from election day:

        5. Natacha – the fact that Trump won the Electoral College makes it a landslide. BTW, Hillary knows how the Presidential game is played, she is no beginner. She just got beaten by a better candidate.

      2. I don’t grant them the premise that rhe Russians “meddled” worth anything… But yeah, even if you grant it, it makes 0 and the Clintocrats look really bad.

        1. and why didnt they tell Trump! oh because they liked the meddling and wanted to use it against him if he won. that’s why.

          1. That would be a logical conclusion if we grant their premise.
            0 did nothing while we got Pearl Harbored by the Russians! All for political advantage.

    3. It’s beginning to seem to me that the senior leadership is doing what it thinks needs to be done, irrespective of Trump’s tweets. I suppose Trump could just fire them all, for having the temerity to hold differing views. We shall see ….

    4. ” Now we’re being hindered by the Russian hoax — it’s a hoax, OK?”

      Maybe the Washington Post would do a better job by defining which “hoax” the President was talking about. Unfortunately the WP prefers to wrongfully edit what the President said in their opinion by talking about a completely different “hoax”. The President was talking about the false claim that the President colluded with the Russians and not talking about Russian interference in our elections.

      As usual the Washington Post is promoting fake news by taking the President’s statement our of context.

  8. Right around the convention, there was a bit of news that didn’t get much attention at the time about the GOP platform stance on Ukraine being changed to be more favorable to Russia. That, along with Manafort’s four month tenure as head of the campaign, was all I needed to know about where this was heading!

    And, this marvelous clip from a couple of years ago:

    1. That, along with Manafort’s four month tenure as head of the campaign, was all I needed to know about where this was heading!

      Yeah, because platforms are so consequential and incremental changes in the more ancillary points of the platform mean so much.

      1. It has been reported that it was the only significant change the Trump campaign requested in the platform. That alone makes it significant. Even if the MSM didn’t take much notice of it at the time, I bet Moscow did.

        Did you like the video of the evasive Mr. Manafort?

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