Appearing on CNN, former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara claimed that special counsel Robert Mueller hit former Trump campaign chair Paul Manfort with so many charges, that he is likely talking with his lawyers about flipping on President Donald Trump to get a favorable plea deal.
Speaking with host Fareed Zakaria, the veteran prosecutor admitted that he had little in the way of inside knowledge of Mueller’s massive investigation into Russian involvement in the Trump campaign, but he explained the strategy behind Mueller’s blockbuster announcement earlier last week.
“Tell me about Manafort, because a lot of people including the president of the United States say this has nothing to do with collusion,” host Zakaria began. “This is money laundering, it was a while ago. Is Robert Mueller doing this as a way to squeeze Manafort to get him to be more cooperative on issues of collusion?”
“The first thing to remember is that Robert Mueller is a prosecutor’s prosecutor,” Bharara replied. “He’s a professional, he’s been doing this for a long time. In the same way that we used to do it in our office, the first thing you do is hold people accountable for crimes that they commit. If there’s evidence beyond a reasonable doubt that you can prove to a jury, like they believe they can here, they bring it.”
“A consequence of that can be if there are other charges they want to bring against someone else. Maybe Paul Manafort will, in the parlance we use in law enforcement, ‘flip.’ Sometimes that happens before a charge is brought like what looks like happened last week with George Papadopoulos. Investigators will make an approach, say ‘we have good evidence against you,’ and they probably did that with Papadopoulos and he said okay and cooperated.”
“With Paul Manafort, he did not,” he continued. “Sometimes though after people’s minds get focused because a criminal charge is brought to bear on them, they have to retain counsel, they go to court and they’re confronted with the enormity of what is facing them, meaning the loss of their liberty. They sometimes flip then.”
“Do you think there’s a good chance Manafort will go to jail?” the CNN host asked.
“Look, I don’t know all the evidence that the special counsel’s office has, but they’re pretty straight-forward charges that you can prove without many witnesses,” Bharara said. “It’s not a lifetime in prison but it’s a substantial prison sentence and I expect that Paul Manafort and his lawyers are talking about the idea of cooperating. They may never do it, some people do it, some don’t. It may be the case that he doesn’t have significant things to say that are worth the time on the part of the special counsel’s office. But I think all of those things are in play and we haven’t heard the end of it.”
Watch the video below via CNN: