Paul Manafort Sentencing Hearing
Robyn: So [inaudible 00:00:00] break down some more of this. Page Pate joins me. Page, good to see you. Legal analyst and also a constitutional attorney. You heard Steven there, talking about the legal implications of this, but I really want to talk about Paul Manafort.
Robyn: How key is he here and how much do you think we’re gonna get in terms of what the “lies” were?
Page: Well, as far as being key, he is a material player in this entire investigation. He was very close to the President. He was a key part of the campaign. He stayed on, at least part of the way, dealing with the transition. He knows all the key players. And he knows folks on the Russian side. So I think, depending upon what the special counsel has learned during the course of the investigation, what they tell the judge today could be critical, not just to Paul Manafort but to Donald Trump.
Robyn: So what are they going to do? They’re gonna explain why the plea deal is off the table.
Page: Right. And this is very different than what we saw with Michael Flynn.
Robyn: Okay. Yeah, explain this to us.
Page: In Michael Flynn’s case, the prosecutor was just telling the judge that he’s provided substantial assistance. And the reason you do that, as a prosecutor, is because that then allows the judge to give him credit against his sentence for that cooperation. In Flynn’s case, maybe he doesn’t serve any time at all.
In Paul Manafort’s case, what the prosecutor has to do is lay out why he lied. And there’s no way to do that without putting in details that the special counsel has learned during his own, independent investigation.
Robyn: And, the fact is, they could also then back up why they know he lied.
Robyn: So the corroborating evidence might be also presented.
Page: Exactly. This is what he said. We know it’s not true because we’ve determined this. And I think they’re gonna have to back it up in this pleading. That’s why I think this pleading, the Manafort pleading, is gonna be a lot more detailed than what we saw with Flynn.
Robyn: But we’ve spoken about this before. Manafort thinks he’s going to get a pardon. Is that…?
Robyn: Okay. So did he think he was gonna get a pardon all along?
Page: I think so.
Robyn: Do you think he went into this thinking, “Hey, I’m not really gonna give them all?”
Page: I think so.
Robyn: Do you?
Page: I think the financial crimes that he committed, the bank fraud, the tax fraud, those were clear. And anyone in his position who didn’t think they were gonna get a pardon would have worked towards a plea agreement. But he went to trial, and he knew he was going to trial because he thought, at the end of the day, “I’m gonna get a pardon from Donald Trump.” And everything that Trump has said about Manafort, since the beginning, has been consistent with that belief and, I think, supported his opinion he’s going to get a pardon.
Robyn: Let’s talk about Michael Cohen. Two separate filings.
Robyn: What does that mean? And again, are we going to see anything? Are we gonna see these big, redacted pieces of paper with not much on them, like we saw with Flynn?
Page: Right. Cohen’s pleading, again, is more like Flynn than Manafort, because this is a sentencing submission. This is the prosecutor saying, “Mr. Cohen helped us and this is, in general terms, what he helped us with.” Maybe two investigations, maybe more. But I don’t think we’re gonna see a lot of details, because, well, really, two reasons. One, those investigations may be ongoing and the special counsel’s office, the prosecutors in the Southern District of New York, they don’t wanna lay it all out on the table at this point.
The other reason is, and this is very real in a lot of cases, you don’t wanna expose your cooperator. You don’t wanna let people know what Michael Cohen has told you, because it could put him in danger, his family in danger. So I don’t think we’re gonna see a whole lot of detail in that pleading.
Robyn: So, as you look at all of this, there are a lot of loose ends to little bit of information we’ve been getting.
Robyn: Shoes are dropping.
Robyn: How much of this investigation do we have a sense of, and do you think it’s gonna end soon? Particularly, with this new AG that’s coming in.
Page: I think it is going to end soon. I think all of the messages that we’ve seen and what’s been reported about the special counsel reaching out to defense lawyers, saying they’re tying up loose ends. We’re going to now see public filings containing details of the investigation. So I think we’re getting close. And then, it’s gonna fall to Bob Mueller. What do you do now? Do you issue your report publicly?
I mean, the regulations say it’s gotta go to whoever is supervising him. Was Rosenstein, as the Deputy Attorney General. It may now be William Barr, who’s just been nominated. Of course, he’s gotta be confirmed first. But that report’s gotta get sent to somebody, either Department of Justice, Congress, or the public.
Robyn: And then there’s Congress. And then there’s the political decision made by Congress. Just one last thing, the tweet today coming from President Trump. A lot of them, a lot of analysts say they looked like they were panicky kind of tweets. Either way, there is some information buried in all of that. And 87 pages is the key number there. What do we know about how they’re preparing for this?
Page: Well, we know there’s going to be a response. Apparently, if you believe…
Robyn: From the White House, yeah.
Page…the tweet, a lengthy response from the White House, from Trump’s lawyers. So I think they have a general idea of what’s coming. They’ve been talking to the special counsel’s office all during this process. They’ve filled out written questions. They’ve submitted them. I think, right now, there may be a question, do we need more written questions? Do we still need that in-person interview with the President? I think that’s the last piece of the puzzle here.
Robyn: Okay. Page Pate, always good for you to unpack things for us. Happy Friday. Thanks so much for speaking to us.
Page: Appreciate it.