Fmr Federal Prosecutor: A Manafort Pardon ‘Should Result in Trump’s Immediate Expulsion from Office’

It’s been known for some time that President Donald Trump and his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort had a joint defense agreement that allows their attorneys to communicate while maintaining attorney-client privilege, but on Tuesday it was confirmed that this arrangement remained in effect even as Manafort was cooperating with Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

The Associated Press described this as “unusual,” but high-profile attorney Ted Boutrous—the same Ted Boutrous who represented CNN in their lawsuit against President Trump—and former federal prosecutor Daniel Goldman characterized it as much more than that.

Boutrous said in a tweet Wednesday morning that it could be “powerful ammunition” for Special Counsel Robert Mueller to use against Trump.

Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani admitted to the AP that he’s been in touch with Manafort’s lawyers regarding what Manafort and Mueller’s team have discussed.

“They share with me the things that pertain to our part of the case,” he said. Giuliani elaborated to The New York Times, saying that Manafort’s lawyer told him that Mueller’s team was looking for information about what Trump knew about the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting between senior campaign members and a Russian attorney.

Goldman, who is also an MSNBC legal analyst, agreed with Boutrous’ take on this.

“This borders on, if not crosses the line of, obstruction of justice,” Goldman said, noting that Manafort’s attorneys cannot just reveal confidential information to Trump.

 

If it wasn’t “unusual” enough for Trump’s lawyers to be getting information about someone who was actively cooperating with Mueller’s investigation, the situation looks even worse in light of Mueller’s allegations that Manafort lied to investigators after signing his cooperation deal.

Mueller was already looking into whether Trump obstructed justice via alleged conversations with and the subsequent firing of FBI Director James Comey, which ultimately led to Mueller’s appointment. If Mueller has reason to believe that Manafort lied as part of an arrangement with Trump, things could get a whole lot worse for the president.

Goldman also said on Wednesday that these recent revelations could–or at least should–have drastic repercussions for Trump if he ends up pardoning Manafort after all this.

Goldman appeared on MSNBC to discuss the latest news and its legal implications. He said the idea that Manafort’s attorneys could be acting as a back channel with Trump’s team is “almost unheard of.”

“To have lawyers communicating like this as a sort of inside informant into the investigation going back to the lawyer for a subject of the investigation is obviously improper … and it may be illegal, depending on whether there’s obstruction of justice or witness tampering coming from the president and his lawyers.”

Obstruction or witness tampering would be grounds for impeachment, something that will be more of a possibility once Democrats assume control of the House of Representatives in the new year.

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