Earlier this month, Paul Manafort agreed to cooperate fully with the Mueller investigation. As part of a plea agreement following his trial on numerous charges, Manafort has forfeited over 46 million dollars in assets, including several homes in New York City and the Hamptons, as well as several bank accounts. As part of this agreement, Manafort will not appeal the charges from his previous trial which stemmed from allegations of tax fraud and other charges. Only a few days prior, Manafort’s legal team had met with members of Trump’s legal team, including Rudy Giuliani, leading to speculation that Manafort would remain close-lipped about any information he had related to the ongoing investigation.
In response to the announcement that Manafort would cooperate, Giuliana released a statement saying “Once again an investigation has concluded with a plea having nothing to do with President Trump or the Trump campaign. The reason: the president did nothing wrong and Paul Manafort will tell the truth.” Interestingly, this statement was soon after revised to remove the phrase “the president did nothing wrong.” While it certainly does not mean anything on its own, it is interesting to consider why the Trump team would take the time to edit this statement so carefully when the president himself is often fast and reckless in his own tweets. It would seem that as the investigation gains speed and midterms draw near, even the suggestion that the president is capable of doing something wrong may further erode both the president’s approval numbers and the slim majority that his party currently enjoys in congress.
Perhaps in retaliation, or perhaps in a desperate attempt to derail the investigation, president Trump ordered documents related to the investigation declassified in a move that riled politicians on both sides of the spectrum. Immediately following this announcement, Mark Warner, a Democrat from Virginia and outspoken advocate for the Mueller investigation, tweeted: “The President shouldn’t be declassifying documents in order to undermine an investigation into his campaign or pursue vendettas against political enemies. He especially shouldn’t be releasing documents with the potential to reveal intelligence sources.” A few days later, on September 21st, Tump backed-off of the order, tweeting that “I met with the DOJ concerning the declassification of various UNREDACTED documents. They agreed to release them but stated that so doing may have a perceived negative impact on the Russia probe. Also, key Allies’ called to ask not to release.” Trump had received criticism from numerous intelligence officials requesting that he not move forward with the declassification of the documents, “warning that sources and methods could be revealed”. Britain also voiced serious objections to the declassification of investigation documents, concerned that “The material includes direct references to conversations between American law enforcement officials and Christopher Steele, the former British spy who compiled a dossier alleging ties between the Trump campaign and Russia.”
This Entry into USRN’s Russia Investigation blog was submitted by Thomas Wellesley: contact Tom@usresistnews.org