A lawyer for Paul Manafort, the president’s onetime campaign chairman, repeatedly briefed President Trump’s lawyers on his client’s discussions with federal investigators after Mr. Manafort agreed to cooperate with the special counsel, according to one of Mr. Trump’s lawyers and two other people familiar with the conversations.
The arrangement was highly unusual and inflamed tensions with the special counsel’s office when prosecutors discovered it after Mr. Manafort began cooperating two months ago, the people said. Some legal experts speculated that it was a bid by Mr. Manafort for a presidential pardon even as he worked with the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, in hopes of a lighter sentence.
So, when Manafort was supposed to be cooperating with prosecutors, he was simultaneously feeding information to Team Trump, alerting the president and his lawyers to developments in the investigation, discussions he’d had with prosecutors, and prosecutors’ lines of inquiry.
Trump then used these insights to, among other things, publicly attack Mueller and his investigation.
On the show last night, incoming House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) referred to Manafort’s actions as “essentially double dealing.” Barbara McQuade, a former U.S. attorney, used the same phrase, adding that Manafort’s efforts to play both sides may even constitute “an act of obstruction of justice.”
Making matters worse, it wasn’t the only development of note in this scandal yesterday afternoon.
Two months before WikiLeaks released emails stolen from the Clinton campaign, right-wing conspiracy theorist Jerome Corsi sent an email to former Trump campaign adviser Roger Stone anticipating the document dump, according to draft court papers obtained by NBC News.
“Word is friend in embassy plans 2 more dumps,” Corsi wrote on Aug. 2, 2016, referring to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, according to the draft court papers. “One shortly after I’m back. 2nd in Oct. Impact planned to be very damaging.”
The email was revealed in a draft court document, known as a statement of the offense, sent to Corsi by special counsel Robert Mueller’s office. Mueller also sent Corsi a draft plea agreement stipulating that the special counsel would not oppose Corsi requesting a sentence of probation if he agreed to plead guilty to one count of lying to federal investigators.
There’s a lot to this, and I hope you saw last night’s segment. But to boil this down, according to the accusations, Trump associate Roger Stone encouraged Corsi to get in touch with WikiLeaks about documents stolen from Hillary Clinton. Federal investigators asked Corsi about these contacts, and he allegedly lied to them.
We don’t know whether Corsi will ultimately strike a deal with Mueller’s team – he’s said he won’t, but Corsi says a lot of things and he doesn’t exactly have a reliable track record – and we also don’t know what will become of these drafts prepared by the special counsel’s office.
But all of this points to a rather obvious link between Trump World and Russian efforts to intervene in the 2016 election.