Personally, there’s nothing in the world I’d like to see more than Paul Manafort getting perp-walked out of court next Friday. Good riddance to bad garbage. But my question is, did Paul Manafort, in attempting to witness tamper while out on bond, just diminish his value so much that it no longer makes sense for Robert Mueller to offer him much of a deal?
Team Mueller has spent months trying to make Paul Manafort’s life a living hell, to the point that even a federal judge remarked on their possible motivations. The emphasis was on trying to “flip” Manafort and to mine the vein of gold on Trump that he could certainly provide. But, for probably quite a bit of that to be effective, Mueller is going to need him to testify as to conversations he had, and actions he took. But did Manafort just make himself basically worthless as a witness for Mueller?
There is a well-known problem with co-conspirators testifying against each other. The problem is that the defense immediately attempts to smear their motives, hammering home for the jury that the witness is cooperating only to save his own skin, so how do we know he’s actually being honest?
Testimony is certainly not all Manafort has to offer. But, even if he rolls on other fish, I think it more than likely that they’re going to need the probity of his information to leverage these other fish. If all the FBI has to threaten you with is Manafort’s word, how great will your attorney believe the risk is in hanging tough? Can the prosecution risk putting Manafort on the stand against you, knowing that his credibility will likely be destroyed by the defense by his own previous actions?
I’m sure that Manafort has all kinds of documentary and logistical evidence he can provide. But again, if Manafort’s testimony in open court is required to ensure the validity of the evidence, how much weight will the jury be ready to give to the evidence, knowing that it came from a man so desperate and despicable that he’d try to get other people to risk prison time on a perjury rap for his benefit?
Clearly, Manafort’s oafish attempts to tamper with witnesses in his upcoming trial was a matter of desperate survival. But, in giving in to that desperation, did he just weaken his own value to Robert Mueller to the point that it no longer makes sense for Mueller to give him the kind of deal that he’s counting on for his own survival? I honestly don’t know, but I think that Manafort may well have done worse than just earn himself another indictment.