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MAJOR BREAKING NEWS via THE NEW YORK TIMES: Special Counsel Mueller Will Indict Trump Campaign Manager Paul Manafort nytimes.com/2017/09/18/us/…
2/ The estimated timeline for an indictment under these specific circumstances (direct notice of future indictment to target): 15 to 60 days
3/ Reasons for this sort of notice include telling suspect to stay in jurisdiction; initiating CI talks; preventing destruction of evidence.
4/ So the first indictment will come in the window I and other lawyers predicted when Mueller was appointed: 3 to 6 months post-appointment.
5/ This would (a) explain why the FISA warrant story involving Manafort leaked today, and (b) seem to answer "Who will be indicted first?"
6/ I'm here embedding my earlier thread on CNN's breaking news (on Manafort) into this longer more important thread:
7/ That the FBI got a FISA warrant on a presidential campaign's Manager and then got it *renewed* means they had something good on Manafort.
8/ What we know of the Manafort investigation suggests Mueller has the charges to possibly put Manafort away for life. And that will be key.
9/ If Paul Manafort is looking at the rest of his life in a federal prison, the chances that he flips on President Trump rise exponentially.
10/ I said in my recent AMA that Mueller will need two or more flips to get Trump. Carl Bernstein implied tonight Rick Dearborn could flip.
11/ Flynn building a seven-figure/seven-person legal team suggests he plans to be a loyal soldier and not flip. *Or* Mueller won't offer it.
12/ Kushner would be a top flip target but he's family; turning on Trump would end his marriage. And he may be *willing* to do a brief bid.
13/ We can't forget that Kushner's father—his biological father—went to prison. So Jared may have a higher tolerance for the idea than most.
14/ Carter Page was interviewed by the FBI more hours (10) than anyone. But he appears to be a Russophile ideologue—so, less likely to flip.
15/ Given tonight's FISA news we don't know if Mueller's plan is to indict Manafort for money laundering *or* something closer to espionage.
16/ But understand that federal prosecutors don't bluster. If Mueller's agents told Manafort he will be indicted, Manafort will be indicted.
17/ Expect a line from Republicans to the effect of, "Well, we knew this was coming for Paul, and this may have *nothing* to do with Trump."
18/ Carl Bernstein is wrong to say the indictment could be a FARA charge. A prosecutor would wait to threaten indictment until he had more.
19/ Mueller's pre-dawn raid, grand jury interview of Manafort's spox, and large money laundering prosecutor team say this is more than FARA.
20/ That said, when prosecutors indict, they indict on *all* they have at the time. So Manafort will face FARA and likely other charges too.
21/ Remember, one reason to charge Manafort first is to get him to talk about Trump. He won't do that unless he's facing the *maximum* pain.
22/ So any criminal lawyer will say, don't expect rinky-dink charges on Manafort. He'll be hammered—and Mueller will add more as he gets it.
23/ Manafort is a hard man—perhaps he won't flip. But by throwing the book at him, Mueller sends a message to other Trump aides: *flip now*.
24/ There's no doubt Mueller is being aggressive. And no doubt we've seen only a fraction of what *he* has—so he must have seen *bad stuff*.
25/ When I say all is happening on the timeline I predicted, I only say it to say things are proceeding just as *any* attorney would expect.
26/ Any experienced criminal attorney will say you don't see this much smoke without fire—and the pace the fire is unfolding is anticipated.
27/ Poor person in a state court? Yes—things would go faster. Bringing down a POTUS via a complex federal probe? This is just how that goes.
28/ Trump WILL be impeached. I say that not as a Dem but an experienced criminal lawyer and someone who's researched this case for 9 months.
29/ Historians will disagree on "the beginning of the end" of Trump. But his campaign manager getting indicted? That'll be a *popular* pick.
30/ So we now know that the Trump-Russia scandal will go to DEFCON 1 either this month or next. It'd be a *shock* if it takes till November.
31/ So what happens if Manafort flips? First: it'll leak very quickly, and Mueller knows that. So he'd want to be *ready* to move on others.
32/ Why? The moment any flip leaks, destruction of evidence and possible flight and secret witness-tampering plots go into *overdrive* ASAP.
33/ That said, a leaked flip could *also* lead to a "rush to the courthouse": witnesses rushing to flip and get deals before they're gone.
34/ So Mueller must balance the chance of unanticipated gains coming from a high-profile flip and dangers/resource drains stemming from it.
35/ Cooperating individuals need protection/management, as many people want to tamper with them or even (in a big case like this) hurt them.
36/ Details of a flipped witness' proffer leak about the same time as the leak of the flip—giving others tips on how to change their story.
37/ Prosecutors may gain access to new flippable witnesses, but they *also* immediately *lose* access to any then-cooperative probe targets.
38/ That's why I say Mueller has to have all his ducks in a row on the day that he signs any sort of deal with a witness like Paul Manafort.
39/ He also needs to play the *pre*-flip period right: just having witnesses think Manafort *could* flip could send them running to Mueller.
40/ What I'm saying is, even though we're pre-indictment, tonight's news changes everything in the probe from a legal/strategic standpoint.
41/ Note that we don't *know* the Manafort tap picked up Trump. But it's likely—given the men talked and taps are non-selective once set up.
42/ What we *do* know is that tonight's news means a slew of new Trump campaign-Russia contacts we didn't know about until earlier tonight.
43/ That's why CNN's scoop tonight matters—and not just the NYT's. CNN says the FBI has Russians claiming additional contacts with Manafort.
44/ Today's news Sen. Grassley (R) still plans a bill preventing Trump from firing Mueller (despite Trump's denials he's considering it)...
45/ ...suggests that those in Congress on Intel and Judiciary caught wind of tonight's news (or the equivalent) well before all of us did.
46/ Remember: we already know Manafort spoke to Priebus about anti-Clinton kompromat in January; Priebus blocked him from getting to Trump.
47/ But we long ago learned that people do *end-arounds* past POTUS' CoS. So we should assume Manafort reached Trump by phone on that issue.
48/ Don't forget Trump only fired Manafort because he had to—and Manafort continued living in Trump Tower and speaking to Trump thereafter.
49/ So watch the president *very* carefully over the next week—because there's every reason to think tonight's news inculpates Donald Trump.
50/ So why did Mueller seek a *no-knock, pre-dawn warrant* on Manafort? Usually only done in cases where destruction of evidence is likely?
51/ It suggests to me—as a former criminal attorney/investigator—that Mueller was looking for evidence of something beyond financial crimes.
52/ It's often possible to get financial records from various sources, and usually there isn't a single toilet-flushable, "smoking gun" doc.
53/ My point—I've said it before and I'll say it again, Trump is THE target of Mueller's probe. Every choice made is made with that in mind.
54/ So the *manner* of the Manafort raid is more likely about *Trump* than just getting one more doc in a mountain of money-laundering docs.
55/ (Only exception: if the FBI had suddenly been tipped off on a *single* and *unreplicable* doc—like a private ledger—in Manafort's home.)
56/ But do you also *subpoena a man's attorneys* in a money-laundering case? No—unless the real case is POTUS *or* that man gives you POTUS.
57/ Here's where tonight's news about how *bad* Trump's lawyers are—they were discussing confidential information in public—comes into play.
58/ As I saw in countless cases, *bad* criminal defense attorneys (usually highly paid ones) have a tell: telling clients they'll be *fine*.
59/ We learned today that Ty Cobb—a Trump WH attorney—is telling him he's going to be *fine* when it is manifestly clear that that is false.
60/ If or when Trump gets competent counsel—he doesn't have it now—he'll *finally* be told he's a goner and he'll react quickly and rashly.
61/ So don't be surprised if tonight's breaking news stories lead to a shake-up on Trump's personal and/or WH legal team in the coming days.
62/ And don't be shocked if the shake-up leads to Trump learning the truth of his situation and starting to threaten Mueller publicly again.
63/ Today ranks, taken in sum, as the biggest day of news in the Trump-Russia scandal since the appointment of Bob Mueller way back in May.
64/ I know it's hard to accept investigations take this long; they do. I know it's hard to keep feeling Trump will be impeached; he will be.
65/ In the next month things will get VERY intense on the Trump-Russia front. Stay hopeful—and patient—and we'll all get through this. {end}
PS/ And remember: *legal* actions—like pardons or firing the FBI director—become *illegal* if done for an illegal purpose. Like Obstruction.
PS2/ FYI on some fake news going around—there's *no* evidence Manafort's cell was hot-miked; the Manafort warrant *wasn't* the 10/2016 FISA.
PS3/ Tonight's news was really good for those hoping for justice in the Trump-Russia case; let's not destroy it by dosing it with fake news.
PS4/ Credit tonight goes to CNN and the NYT—previous rumors of a Manafort hot-mike, or Manafort being tapped under a prior FISA, were false.
PS5/ I've testified in federal criminal cases and worked with U.S. Marshals: they don't execute FBI search warrants. That—too—was fake news.
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