Fmr Fed Prosecutor: Manafort’s Legal Strategy Boils Down to ‘Be Difficult for Mueller,’ Get Pardoned

Paul Manafort‘s legal team was expected to file their response to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s allegations that Manafort lied in breach of a cooperation agreement by 10:00 a.m. on Wednesday. That deadline came and went and there was no such filing. However, it was possible (even likely) that Manafort’s attorneys filed under seal, as they have done before. That turned out to be the case.

While we were waiting, former federal prosecutor and current CNN legal analyst Elie Honig had a few thoughts about Manafort’s legal strategy right now.

“People should understand how unusual this is,” he said. “I’ve dealt with dozens of cooperators. I’ve never seen one who lies — certainly they lie, but then that’s it — who got caught lying, then contested it, then when the judge said, ‘I want to see the proof,’ the proof came out and then when the judge said, ‘We’ll have a hearing,’ the cooperators said, ‘No, no thanks.'”

“It’s so obvious that Manafort isn’t willing to put his proof behind him,” Honig continued. “His lawyers are leading him down this path. He just keeps digging a hole deeper and deeper for himself.”

As has been suggested for quite some time by many legal experts, Honig said that the 69-year-old Manafort is probably angling for a pardon. The nuance he added was that Manafort appears to be doing something to curry favor with President Donald Trump. Forget flipping on the president, as Michael Cohen did. Manafort is out here helping the president by causing problems for Mueller, Honig suggested.

“I think the theory may be, let’s just cause trouble, let’s just be difficult for Mueller, and maybe that will appeal to Trump somehow,” Honig concluded.

Editor’s note: this article was updated after publication to reflect that Manafort did submit his response.

[Image via Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images]

Matt Naham is managing editor of Law&Crime. He formerly worked as news editor and weekend editor at Rare.

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