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Seth Abramson @SethAbramson
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(THREAD) There are four types of cooperation deals that Paul Manafort could have entered into with Special Counsel Mueller—we don't know which one he has yet, but we can discuss each of them in turn and that's what I do in this thread. I hope you'll read on and share with others.
1/ The biggest bombshell would be if Manafort decided to give Mueller the goods on Trump—it'd be a bombshell because it'd break Manafort's Joint Defense Agreement (JDA) with Trump, end Manafort's chance at a pardon from Trump, and run a very high chance of ending this presidency.
2/ As authority for the claim Manafort flipping on Trump would endanger Trump's presidency I cite... Trump. NBC reported months ago that Trump was telling friends on the phone that he could "crush" Mueller and wasn't afraid of his probe *because* Manafort wasn't going to "flip."
3/ Indeed, Manafort is the only witness in the Trump-Russia probe who Trump has ever spoken of in this way—as someone who could legitimately endanger him. In addition to implicitly confirming Trump thinks he committed a crime, the NBC report made Manafort Mueller's biggest "get."
4/ Manafort informing on Trump has led many—not so much me, but many out there—to talk quite a bit about Manafort's safety. His plea deal in DC resolves all DC charges and his remaining 10 Virginia charges with a maximum of 10 years in a federal prison. Here's why that matters.
5/ Manafort is already facing sentencing on 8 charges in Virginia. If these two counts he's now pleading to in DC lead to sentences—whether 10 years or less than that—running *consecutive* (rather than concurrent) to his other sentences, he'll still be in prison for a long time.
6/ When I say a "long time," I mean Manafort is likely to be in prison through the end of Trump's natural life, through the end of this scandal, through Putin's final term as Russian president, through (possibly) any of his anger at any aspect of his plot being publicly revealed.
7/ Many defendants—I say this from my experience defending accused criminals—look at prison as an "I will do anything not to go for even a single day" proposition. Manafort *doesn't have that luxury*. He's at the "could I have 10 years at the end of my life outside prison" phase.
8/ A second possibility is Manafort is offering up a *lateral* target for Mueller, of which there are *many* who were involved in different (and to be frank, more serious) elements of the Trump-Russia conspiracy: Kushner, Bannon, Prince, and Trump Jr. are four *major* candidates.
9/ A "lateral" target would be someone who is at roughly the same level of *both* authority and culpability as Manafort. Manafort's venality involved Russia—as did Gates'; but Kushner, Bannon, Prince, and Trump Jr. were, I can report, colluding with more nations than just Russia.
10/ It is revealed in PROOF OF COLLUSION—and will be revealed to the public in due time—that the Trump-Russia conspiracy was in fact a *five-nation grand bargain* involving the United States, Russia, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Israel. Manafort's lateral co-conspirators know this.
11/ So the reason for Mueller to want a lateral target is that those other 4 targets I mentioned (and Flynn would be in the group too, but Mueller already has him) were in *many* meetings and calls with Saudis and Emiratis discussing Syria, Iran, and Qatar that Manafort *wasn't*.
12/ Manafort had a simple goal—help Russia/make money. Trump Sr., Kushner, Bannon, Prince, Don Jr., Flynn and a few lesser targets were focused on something far bigger. And that's what a lot of my research for PROOF OF COLLUSION was about—i.e. there's still *much* to be revealed.
13/ Manafort giving Mueller a lateral target or two also gives Mueller a chance of coming at Trump from another angle (remember, in *this* theory of Manafort's cooperation deal, unlike the first possibility, we're assuming that Manafort is *not* directly giving up Trump himself).
14/ So Manafort "giving up" Bannon, say, could not only help Mueller get Bannon on various charges but also, if Mueller can get Bannon now, open up an entirely new window on Trump's activities during (say) the presidential transition—a real "win-win" for the special counsel.
15/ A third possibility for the cooperation deal between Manafort and the feds is that Manafort is feeding information on *one* lesser target *but*—and this is *key*—it's a lesser target who, because of the narrow information the lesser target has, can help Mueller to nail Trump.
16/ The Trump-Russia probe is replete with such *potential* targets (I say "potential" because we can't know for *sure* exactly how much legal liability they have right now, or if they can help Mueller nab Trump). Examples might be J.D. Gordon or Thomas Barrack or K.T. McFarland.
17/ Needless to say, there are also many Russian (and some Ukrainian or Russian-Ukrainian) targets that might fit this definition, but Mueller wouldn't take info on them from Manafort as valuable unless he believed that he could get those people extradited from Russia (unlikely).
18/ An adjunct to this third possibility is Manafort is able to offer up a large number of lesser targets—say, targets just one level below Manafort—who *don't* directly have the goods on Trump but are still worth getting for Mueller if he knows Manafort is still going to prison.
19/ The fourth possibility is more abstract but still possible—that Manafort in some way has information on an entire "scheme" underlying the Trump campaign that may or may not *directly* implicate anyone *by name* but which Mueller can follow up on to great investigative profit.
20/ Because the Trump-Russia investigation is headed in a money laundering-, RICO-, bribery-type direction—remember, allegations of collusion *never* had to do with Trump or his aides *literally hacking* anyone—information on a common scheme or plan would be valuable to Mueller.
21/ For instance, if Manafort knows something about how money was being moved around—or can peg Russian/Ukrainian actors involved in such a scheme even if they can't be extradited and tried—it could lead Mueller down a whole *new* path with a mountain of hard evidence at the end.
22/ Given that Manafort is still getting a lot of prison time here, there is an unlikely but still not impossible fifth possibility: that Manafort is *merely* telling Mueller *everything* that *he* did in great detail, which could nevertheless give investigative leads to Mueller.
23/ In that scenario, Manafort wouldn't be giving up Trump—technically, but only *really* questionably, preserving his shot at a pardon, as Trump wouldn't know for *certain* what Manafort gave the feds—and indeed might not *technically* be giving up any other Americans/Russians.
24/ The upshot is this: Mueller gave Manafort a *chance* at *maybe* not dying in prison—and to many defendants that is worth *everything*—so we should assume that whatever Mueller got in this deal, he has adjudicated it as being of significant value. We don't know that value yet.
25/ That last point is key—and the reason I wrote this thread. There are 4 (maybe 5) types of deal that could've happened here—and we don't want to be those people assuming Manafort gave up Trump when there *are* other possibilities. But *Trump* may well think he's been given up.
PS/ Right now, Trump's lawyers are trying to get as many leaks as they can on what type of deal Manafort was given (i.e., what Manafort offered). Trump and his legal team's reaction today and tomorrow may be our *best shot* at learning—in the near-term—what really happened here.
PS2/ Some are wondering how a cooperation deal can be divided up by target, and I should've been clearer—it can't *formally* be broken up this way. In criminal cases, one either cooperates and spills all the beans or one doesn't. *Officially*. That's not how it works in practice.
PS3/ In practice, the defendant makes a "proffer"—a statement of some kind, usually in person, but in theory not always—of what information he will offer the government. In some cases, the defendant may sit down with prosecutors and be questioned for a whole day on what he knows.
PS4/ The prosecutor then decides if the "proffer" is sufficient. The problem: defendants hold back. So when I said "Mueller may have accepted this deal in exchange for information on _________," what I am saying is that he may have accepted a proffer that only gave him _________.
PS5/ Anyone who tells you a prosecutor can know in advance if they're getting the whole story—or that a defendant always tells the whole truth in a proffer—has never practiced law in any jurisdiction in the U.S. (or anywhere else, for that matter).

It just doesn't work that way.
PS6/ The whole reason prosecutors have to cut deals is that *they don't know things* and often *don't know what they don't know*. While they usually *are* able to tell if a defendant is lying as to *some* aspects of a proffer, there will be many others for which they can't tell.
PS7/ For instance, any one-on-one in-person conversation Manafort had with a Russian he can lie about. Any two-party telephonic communication he had with a Russian or American on a line he was certain was secure he can lie about (assuming the other party hasn't yet been charged).
PS8/ In each case, Mueller and his team are charged with hearing what Manafort has to say—who he's willing to *be honest about* and sell out—and then decide if they're willing to cut a deal. I am *not* saying (and would never say) the prosecutor dictates beforehand who they want.
PS9/ Granted, in situations in which a proffer is subject to live interrogation, the prosecutor will grill the defendant on *all* those who they want information on. But—and prosecutors never seem to get this—it is, sadly, finally the *defendant* who chooses what info comes out.
PS10/ So I beg you all not to confuse legal analysts who talk about theory with those who talk about practice: yes, *in theory*, a defendant "gives up everything they have." As a defense attorney who worked directly with criminals, I'll tell you it doesn't actually work that way.
UPDATE/ Based on the info coming out this morning, this is sounding more and more like Scenario #1: Manafort plans on giving Mueller everything and not trying to hold anything back. But we'll see. I do wish more folks had written on that NBC report about Trump's fear of Manafort.
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