A conviction and a plea deal
Paul Manafort, US President Donald Trump’s former campaign manager, was found guilty on eight counts last Tuesday, including: Five counts of tax fraud, one count of failing to report foreign financial accounts and two counts of bank fraud.
A mistrial was declared on 10 other counts, on which he could be retried. While none of the convictions were directly related to the Trump campaign, Manafort will be trialled again in September, where he faces another seven charges including conspiring to defraud the US, operating as an unregistered foreign agent, and obstructing justice.
Literally within the hour, Michael Cohen, Trump’s former personal lawyer and fixer, entered a plea deal, admitting guilt for the following charges: Five counts of tax fraud, one count of making false statements to a financial institution, one count of unlawful corporate contributions and one count of excessive campaign contributions.
Of particular note, Cohen admitted to working to silence Karen McDougal and Stormy Daniels, two women who claimed to have had affairs with Trump. He claims to have done so under Trump’s direction, a claim which the President had vehemently denied.
This is another win for Robert Mueller’s Special Counsel investigation team which has been looking into Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election and Trump’s presidential campaign. It is also another blow to many Republicans and the President himself, both of whom have dismissed the investigation as a witch hunt.
With the pace of Mueller’s investigation reaching a crescendo, and Trump’s circle of allies rapidly narrowing, Mueller’s team may soon turn their attention to his inner circle, and perhaps the President himself. Indeed, Allen Weisselberg, Chief Financial Officer of the Trump Organization was reported to have been granted immunity in the Cohen investigation last Friday. While exactly what Weisselberg told the investigators is unclear, Mueller’s strategy is clear as day – Follow the Money.