Seems like every news outlet is discussing the fact that Manafort’s lawyers shared information with Trump lawyers — specifically, Manafort has insight into what Mueller knows, and he’s sharing it with Trump (via the lawyers).
My first reaction was “So what?” This happens all the time, especially when there are several potential targets of criminal wrongdoing. There’s nothing illegal with information-sharing UNLESS one of the participants has signed an agreement with the government not to talk to third parties.
The New York Times story even acknowledges that Manafort’s team and Trump’s team had an informal (if formal) defense pact, and while it might be unusual for Manafort to continue to cooperate with Mueller while at the same time feeding info to Trump, it isn’t that unusual for a guy like Manafort, who plays all sides to get the best outcome. Manafort courted Mueller in order to get a light sentence, but he helped out Trump in order to get a pardon — possibly. So yeah, he played both sides.
But here’s where things get REALLY interesting, and the media hasn’t latched on to it yet. You would THINK that Manafort’s plea agreement would have a clause forbidding him to talk to third parties (which would be binding on his attorneys). But I looked at Manafort’s plea agreement — no such clause exists! But if you look at the plea agreement of Richard Gates (Manafort’s associate) — it DOES contain that clause.
I have the receipts. I’ll include a screenshot of the relevant sections of the plea agreements of Manafort and Gates below. They are exactly the same EXCEPT that Manafort has one less restriction: Unlke Gates, Manafort is not retrained from talking to third parties about his plea agreement and “information derived therefrom”.
Relevant section of Gates Plea Agreement:
Relevant section of Manafort Plea Agreement:
Did you catch the difference? Section (c) of the Gates Plea Agreement does not appear in the Manafort Plea Agreement.
Why would Mueller allow Manafort to talk to third parties? Did he drop the ball when drafting Manafort’s agreement? Did Manafort’s lawyers negotiate this clause out, and why would Mueller allow that?
Enter the blue dye theory.
The blue dye theory is that Mueller INTENTIONALLY left that clause out, HOPING that Manafort would share information with the Trump team. Mueller then gives Manafort some false information, Manafort shares that with Trump, Trump answers Mueller’s written questions (which he did last week) which contain the falsity, and boom — you have Trump lying to prosecutors.
This is bolstered by the fact that Mueller, just prior to Thanksgiving, asked the court to postpone Manafort’s sentencing for ten days — in other words, he wanted to postpone Manafort’s sentencing until AFTER Trump responded to Mueller’s written questions (although Mueller didn’t say THAT). The court granted that request.
Either that, or Mueller screwed up by allowing Manafort’s people to talk to Trump’s people.
UPDATE: @nycsouthpaw, a legal analyst who noted the difference a while ago in the Manafort and Gates plea agreements, asked the Special Counsel about it, and they declined a response.
I should add that I asked the SCO about this specific change back in mid-September pic.twitter.com/T7Jaw8c1fc— southpaw (@nycsouthpaw) November 28, 2018