Robert Mueller Turns Up the Heat on Manafort as Leaked Info Comes Out
Paul Manafort, the former chairman of President Donald Trump's campaign, is caught in the crosshairs of special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, and recent revelations indicate that Mueller will continue to drill down on his findings.
The special counsel's particular inquiry into Manafort not only confirms that he is a key focus in the Russia investigation, but also highlights the likelihood that Mueller is digging for criminal conduct in an effort to "flip" Manafort as a witness against Trump and other campaign associates.
On Monday, CNN reported that US investigators obtained a warrant to wiretap Manafort before and after the election. Some information gleaned from the surveillance prompted concerns that Manafort had encouraged Russians to "help with the campaign," according to CNN.
The news came on the heels of a New York Times report which found that after obtaining a "no-knock" warrant and conducting a predawn raid on Manafort's home in July, investigators told him they planned to indict him.
The unusual pace and aggression with which Mueller is moving against Manafort is a classic sign that the special counsel wants to coerce Manafort's cooperation in the Russia probe, wrote former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti.
"The tactic that Mueller is using — telling Manafort that he will be charged — is generally used when prosecutors are trying to get a defendant to 'flip,'" said Mariotti. The best way to do that, he added, is to assemble enough evidence to make it likely that the individual, if charged, would be convicted and sentenced to jail time.