February 28, 2018

Manafort pleads not guilty to latest charges

The Mueller probe into the Russia collusion on the election, already reaching well beyond the scope of it's mandate, leveled new charges against Paul Manafort in an effort to to squeeze him on the Trump campaign.  In addition to the charges laid by the Mueller team so far being predominantly against Russians, it's another sign that the prosecutor, really has nothing and is on a fishing expedition.

That's because Manafort is pleading not guilty, and apparently is not succumbing to the pressure to make a deal:
Paul Manafort, the former Trump campaign chairman accused of laundering $30 million to support a lavish lifestyle, pleaded not guilty in his first court appearance since Special CounselRobert Mueller unveiled two new indictments against him last week.

Manafort, 68, entered his plea in federal court in Washington, where he was initially indicted in October withRick Gates, his longtime business associate and deputy on the Trump campaign. Manafort previously denied those charges. Now Mueller has intensified the pressure on Manafort by winning a guilty plea and cooperation deal with Gates and filing the new charges against Manafort.
It also proves that the investigation is succumbing to the rules of bureaucracy, which is to say, it's driven by self-preservation: it has to justify it's existence by delivering something...anything. The probe is now interested in primarily one thing: it's own survival. That manifests itself in a relentless pursuit of president Trump, regardless of how far afield they have to go from their original mandate.  They are looking at things that go well beyond the scope of the Russia collusion investigation.  Things that happened longer before there was a Trump campaign. Why would they do that?  In order to find things on the people in the administration, or associated with the campaign so that they have leverage to coerce people into divulging what they think they will find about the Trump campaign.

More charges against Manafort means Mueller has not gotten what he wants out of the investigation or what he thinks Manafort has the ability to divulge.  That Manafort is pleading not guilty, means that Manafort is not intimidated by the Mueller team. All of that adds up to the likely conclusion that this is nowhere near finished.  That isn't what president Trump wants (sure the not guilty makes sense but the ongoing unrelated charges being laid just drags out the probe and delays an exoneration).  It's not what the Democrats want (they'd like an October conclusion that indicts the president to help them win in the midterms).  Bur for the Mueller team, it's exactly what they want as it ensures a longer window, and continued existence.  

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