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It's Not Just the President* Who Ought to Be Sweating Today

Charles P. Pierce

From Esquire

Before the Paul Manafort's Destiny Party really gets rolling-Vodka and ostrich meat for everyone!-let's pause for a moment and consider Vice President Mike Pence. The Choirboy (pace Doghouse Riley) was going nowhere in the winter of 2016. He had screwed up eight ways from Sunday as governor of Indiana, and it was better than even money that he wouldn't be re-elected. His career had kicked the ye oaken bucket.

Then, that summer, a miracle happened, and the miracle was named Paul Manafort. From CBS News:

First reported by the New York Post, an indecisive Trump had initially decided on Christie after the New Jersey governor made his final case to Trump on July 12. Christie, the first former presidential candidate to get behind Trump after a poor showing in the New Hampshire primary, had assumed a high profile role on the campaign prior to the Convention – reaching out to donors and potential high profile supporters. Paul Manafort, Trump’s campaign manager at the time, allegedly had another idea in mind.

Manafort had arranged for Trump to meet with his first choice for the job on July 13: Indiana Governor Mike Pence. Afterwards, the plans was for Trump and Pence to then fly back to New York together and a formal announcement would be made, a campaign source said of Manafort’s thinking. What had previously been reported as a “lucky break” by the New York Times was actually a swift political maneuver devised by the now fired campaign manager. Set on changing Trump’s mind, he concocted a story that Trump’s plane had mechanical problems, forcing the soon-to-be Republican nominee to stay the night in Indianapolis for breakfast with the Pence family on Wednesday morning.

Other than softening the Republican Party's stance on Russian thuggery in the Ukraine, and maneuvering Mike Pence into the vice presidency, Manafort didn't do much in the short time he managed the president*'s campaign, except possibly commit some crimes. On Friday, the president*'s former campaign manager, and the person most responsible for the vice president's presence on the ticket, pleaded guilty to...wait for it..."conspiracy against the United States," which isn't really as serious as it sounds, but which is not something to which any president wants his former campaign manager to cop. Mike Pence has one foot in the barrel now, too.

Photo credit: Chip Somodevilla - Getty Images

Other than that, I don't have a lot to add to Friday's proceedings. Manafort clearly didn't trust the president* to deliver on a pardon. (Smart play, Paul.) I don't know how much, precisely, he can hand over to Mueller, but he can put other people who have more to offer into the frying pan. If I were either of the two Trump boys, or Jared and Ivanka, I'd be buying new court clothes tonight. They're pretty much the only ones left short of El Caudillo Del Mar-A-Lago. From The Washington Post:

Kevin Downing, an attorney for Manafort, gave a brief statement outside the courthouse after the hearing. “He wanted to make sure his family remained safe and live a good life,” Downing said of Manafort. “He has accepted responsibility.”

"Safe" is a curious word in this context. Or, maybe it's not.

Prosecutor Andrew Weissmann said at the beginning of Friday’s plea hearing that Manafort has agreed to cooperate with investigators, saying the 17-page plea document included the terms of Manafort’s expected cooperation. Jackson noted Manafort has agreed to cooperate “fully and truthfully” with the investigation conducted by the Office of Special Counsel, including participating in interviews and debriefings, producing any documents in his control, testifying and agreeing to delay sentencing until a time set by government.

And Robert Mueller, with no expression on his face, reaches across his desk for another document.

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Photo credit: Alex Wong - Getty Images

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