Tag Archives: suborning perjury

Message to Trump: Paul Manafort sent to jail for witness tampering

Permanent musical accompaniment: I Fought The Law (And The Law Won), by the Bobby Fuller Four (1966).

The Special Counsel and U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson sent President Trump a clear message today: tamper with witnesses, and you will be going to jail; you can share a cell with your former campaign manager. Paul Manafort ordered to jail after witness-tampering charges:

A federal judge ordered Paul Manafort to jail Friday over charges he tampered with witnesses while out on bail — a major blow for President Trump’s former campaign chairman as he awaits trial on federal conspiracy and money-laundering charges next month.

“You have abused the trust placed in you six months ago,” U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson told Manafort. “The government motion will be granted, and the defendant will be detained.”

The judge said sending Manafort to a cell was “an extraordinarily difficult decision” but said his conduct — allegedly contacting witnesses in the case in an effort to get them to lie to investigators — left her little choice.

“This is not middle school. I can’t take away his cellphone,” she said. “If I tell him not to call 56 witnesses, will he call the 57th?” She said she should not have to draft a court order spelling out the entire criminal code for him to avoid violations.

“This hearing is not about politics. It is not about the conduct of the office of special counsel. It is about the defendant’s conduct,” Jackson said. “I’m concerned you seem to treat these proceedings as another marketing exercise.”

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Superseding indictment filed against Paul Manafort and his Russian associate for witness tampering

Last week, the Special Counsel’s office Mueller accuses Paul Manafort of witness tampering:

Federal prosecutors accused former Trump presidential campaign chairman Paul Manafort of witness tampering in a pleading filed late Monday in his criminal case and asked a federal judge to consider revoking or revising his pretrial release. [Manafort is subject to home confinement, and is wearing two ankle bracelet court monitors.]

Prosecutors accused Manafort and a longtime associate they linked to Russian intelligence of repeatedly contacting two members of a public relations firm and asking them to falsely testify about secret lobbying they did at Manafort’s behest.

The firm of former senior European officials, informally called the “Hapsburg group,” was secretly retained in 2012 by Manafort to advocate for Ukraine, where Manafort had clients, prosecutors charged.

In court documents, prosecutors with special counsel Robert S. Mueller III allege that Manafort and his associate — referred to only as Person A — tried to contact the two witnesses by phone and through encrypted messaging apps. The description of Person A matches his longtime business colleague in Ukraine, Konstantin Kilimnik.

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Analysis of Trump lawyers’ defense memo (shorter version: It’s all B.S.)

When former U.S. President Richard Nixon sat down for an interview with British journalist David Frost in 1977, Nixon asserted a broad interpretation of executive authority:

Screen Shot 2018-06-03 at 6.22.09 AM Frost:…Would you say that there are certain situations – and the Huston Plan was one of them – where the president can decide that it’s in the best interests of the nation, and do something illegal?

Nixon: Well, when the president does it, that means it is not illegal.

Frost: By definition.

Nixon: Exactly, exactly. If the president, for example, approves something because of the national security, or in this case because of a threat to internal peace and order of significant magnitude, then the president’s decision in that instance is one that enables those who carry it out, to carry it out without violating a law. Otherwise they’re in an impossible position.

You should note the context: If the president orders someone in the federal government to do something for a national security or domestic security reason, those individuals carrying out the president’s order “are not violating the law.”

Donald Trump and his shyster lawyers have taken Nixon’s assertion “[W]hen the president does it, that means it is not illegal,” and extended this to a blanket assertion of presidential immunity from (1) being subpoenaed in a criminal investigation, and (2) being indicted for criminal activity while president. It is a novel theory that the president is above the law, and a bold rejection of the bedrock foundational American principles that we are a nation of laws and that no man is above the law.

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Did Trump’s lawyer John Dowd raise the prospect of a pardon to witnesses?

The New York Times, and others, reported this week that President Trump’s lawyer John Dowd – who has resigned – broached the idea of President Trump’s pardoning two of his former top advisers, Michael T. Flynn and Paul Manafort, with their lawyers last year, according to three people with knowledge of the discussions. Trump’s Lawyer Raised Prospect of Pardons for Flynn and Manafort:

The discussions came as the special counsel was building cases against both men, and they raise questions about whether the lawyer, John Dowd, who resigned last week, was offering pardons to influence their decisions about whether to plead guilty and cooperate in the investigation.

The talks suggest that Mr. Trump’s lawyers were concerned about what Mr. Flynn and Mr. Manafort might reveal were they to cut a deal with the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, in exchange for leniency. Mr. Mueller’s team could investigate the prospect that Mr. Dowd made pardon offers to thwart the inquiry, although legal experts are divided about whether such offers might constitute obstruction of justice.

Mr. Dowd’s conversation with Mr. Flynn’s lawyer, Robert K. Kelner, occurred sometime after Mr. Dowd took over last summer as the president’s personal lawyer, at a time when a grand jury was hearing evidence against Mr. Flynn on a range of potential crimes. Mr. Flynn, who served as Mr. Trump’s first national security adviser, agreed in late November to cooperate with the special counsel’s investigation. He pleaded guilty in December to lying to the F.B.I. about his conversations with the Russian ambassador and received favorable sentencing terms.

Mr. Dowd has said privately that he did not know why Mr. Flynn had accepted a plea, according to one of the people. He said he had told Mr. Kelner that the president had long believed that the case against Mr. Flynn was flimsy and was prepared to pardon him, the person said.

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