Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort’s deal made with special prosecutor Robert Mueller last week “was a very bad day” for President Donald Trump, retired Harvard professor Alan Dershowitz said Sunday.
In an interview on NBC News’ “Meet The Press,” the author of “The Case Against Impeaching Trump” argued the president is in the dark about what exactly Manafort will tell federal prosecutors.
“ I understand why [Trump attorney] Rudy Giuliani, who's a good lawyer, wants to put this in the most positive light,” Dershowitz said, commenting on Giuliani’s response that the deal has “nothing to do with President Trump or the Trump campaign.”
“But this was a very bad day for the Trump administration,” Dershowitz continued. “It's bad because he doesn't know what Manafort is saying, and he can't count on Manafort saying only things that the special counsel already knows. And when you don't know what a corroborating witness will say, it's a bad day for you because you're vulnerable and exposed.”
With Friday’s plea deal, Manafort dodged a second criminal trial that was to focus on allegations that he acted as an unregistered foreign agent for Ukrainian interests — and ends his more than yearlong fight against federal prosecutors in their investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election.
The onetime lobbyist and political consultant was already convicted in August in a separate trial in Virginia of eight financial crimes — and faces 7 to 10 years in prison in that case.
"He wanted to make sure that his family was able to remain safe and live a good life,” prosecutor Andrew Weissmann said in court on Friday. “He's accepted responsibility. This is for conduct that dates back many years and everybody should remember that," Manafort's attorney, Kevin Downing, said.
According to Dershowitz, however, Mueller still “has a tremendous advantage” with the plea deal.
“Prosecutors have too much power to flip witnesses and use their testimony,” Dershowitz asserted. “Prosecutors have all that much power, all defense attorneys realize that.”\
Though it’s unclear how the deal could affect any pursuit by Manafort of a pardon from Trump, Dershowitz said it’s “too late” for that.
“Both Manafort and President Trump acted too late,” Dershowitz said. “If [Manafort] was going to make a deal, he should have made it before he was convicted. He would have gotten a better deal.
“And President Trump, if he was going to pardon, he should have pardoned before Manafort agreed to cooperate. So there's not going to be any pardon now. Manafort has a deal.”
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