Speed Reads

The Manafort Indictment

Mueller could use the Manafort indictment to pry into the Trump Jr. meeting

Paul Manafort, President Trump's former campaign chairman, surrendered to federal authorities Monday after being indicted on 12 charges related to Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election. Manafort's charges include money laundering and tax fraud, but do not concern any actions specifically related to his time at the helm of Trump's winning campaign.

Still, "the seriousness of the charges suggests that Mueller may be able to bring substantial pressure on Manafort to cooperate with his ongoing investigation into matters more directly relevant to [Trump] himself," writes Greg Sargent at The Washington Post. "Mueller will try to get Manafort to disclose everything he knows about any Russian sabotage of the election, any Trump campaign collusion with it, and any Trump organization dealings with Russia he might know about."

That could include a specific focus on the June 2016 meeting between a Russian lawyer and Donald Trump Jr., the president's eldest son, at Trump Tower:

First, there's the meeting that [Trump Jr.] arranged with Russians in the expectation that the Trump campaign would be given damaging information on Hillary Clinton that originated with the Russian government. Manafort and Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner were at the 2016 meeting, and there are reports of cryptic notes that Manafort took there that are in Mueller's possession.

[Paul Rosenzweig, a senior counsel on Ken Starr's probe of former President Bill Clinton,] says Mueller will want to question Manafort about what happened at the meeting, but that's only the beginning. "Were you contacted after the meeting by the Russians in any follow up?" Rosenzweig says Manafort would likely be asked. "During your tenure as campaign chair, did you discuss this meeting with Donald J. Trump?"

That last one is particularly relevant, since it could shed light on what Trump knew about the meeting and when. [The Washington Post]

Rosenzweig also suggested in his interview with Sargent that Mueller now has the "specter of criminal prosecution and jail time" on his side, which he can use "to induce [Manafort] to be truthful in his testimony." Read more of Rosenzweig's predictions at The Washington Post.