The Mueller team is taking a stand. They have had enough of the lawless, reckless, self-serving, actions of the Trump administration. Paul Manafort is likely going to jail, today, tomorrow, whenever the judge can be available soonest. But the motion also served as a giant shot across the White House bow.
Obviously, any time a defendant starts contacting witnesses, there will be trouble, and the judge will be asked to step in and stop it. But, this motion also serves to tell the White House that the Mueller team watches what they do. To whom does Trump speak? For what purposes? The Mueller team already knows the answers.
Rawstory brings us a similar conclusion reached by Jeremy Bash, ex-CIA Chief of Staff, who states:
“It’s also a major signal from Bob Mueller and the prosecutors that they take obstruction of justice very seriously, because, after all, what is Manafort accused of doing?” Bash said. “He’s accused of obstructing the Mueller investigation by trying to get his story straight with potential witnesses.”
From the very beginning of Trump’s presidency, from the point that Trump demanded loyalty from Comey, Trump has been doing everything he could to obstruct and counter the legitimacy of the investigation. Mueller and his team appear ready to fight it.
“The whole effort to follow the Russian money to influence the U.S. political scene, that, after all, is what Bob Mueller is investigating,” Bash said. “Now here comes Manafort to obstruct that investigation. It’s a major signal to the president, to Rudy Giuliani, to the president’s other inner circle members, that if you obstruct this investigation, if you lie, if you witness tamper, we’re going after you.”
If anything, I believe he is likely understating it. You can bet that the Mueller investigation has long-known that Manafort had been making these contacts. Mueller likely allowed Manafort to continue in the hopes of picking up critical intelligence. But, after this weekend, after a day in which Trump declared himself above the law, the motion came down late in the afternoon. I don’t believe it was a coincidence that Mueller made sure that the law had the last word of the day.