Former Watergate prosecutor Nick Akerman isn’t too optimistic about Paul Manafort‘s chances to ever see the outside world again.
Early on Friday, President Donald Trump‘s former campaign manager had his $10 million bail revoked by a federal judge in response to allegations that Manafort attempted to tamper with potential witnesses in the government’s case against him. Manafort was previously awaiting trial on double ankle-monitored house arrest.
Appearing on MSNBC’s Velshi & Ruhle, Akerman was asked to spell out what happens next. After briefly mentioning Manafort’s presence at the infamous Trump Tower meeting on June 9, 2016, Akerman said:
Just to put this in historical perspective, what broke the Watergate case was when James McCord got a 25-year sentence. He was one of the Watergate burglars. He got a 25-year sentence. He was sitting in jail and that’s what made him crack and cooperate.
Host Ali Velshi interjected, “Because that is very influential. That is a very different situation than being on trial.” Akerman quickly agreed before pressing on. He said, “And here it could be even worse. It could be the beginning of a life sentence. Paul Manafort, if he does not cooperate, may never ever see the outside of a jail cell.”
Velshi and Akerman then discussed what options Manafort might have to avoid spending the rest of his life in prison–and why he might not want to exercise those options. Velshi asked, “What is his motivation in not cooperating? I fully understand him not coming out and saying, ‘Yeah, I’m guilty of everything,’ but there are shades of grey in here, right?” To which Akerman replied:
I mean his motivation would simply be that he wants to maintain his reputation as a stand-up guy; that he doesn’t want to have to testify against people. He just has not yet come to the realization that what he’s done has been to commit a whole series of crimes and that the only way he’s going to be able to save himself is to cooperate.
Note: Manafort has only been charged with various crimes and has not been found guilty of anything so far, despite being jailed. That, of course, could very well change in the near future.
[image via screengrab/MSNBC]