Special counsel Robert Mueller informed a federal judge on Monday that Paul Manafort’s cooperation deal has imploded because of Manafort’s seemingly congenital inability to tell the truth.
On the surface, Manafort’s failed cooperation appears to be a setback for Mueller and a bullet dodged for President Donald Trump and administration insiders. But Mueller’s ability to see through Manafort’s lies and rip up the cooperation agreement bespeaks a deeper strength. By Monday’s court filing, Mueller effectively declared: I have enough evidence to know Manafort is lying to protect others, and I don’t need his half-baked cooperation to prove my case against them.
As a federal prosecutor, I dealt with dozens of cooperators, including gun and drug traffickers, corrupt public officials, mafia leaders and murderers. I spent countless hours interviewing (or “proffering,” in the lingo) potential cooperators and assessing whether they were being honest and forthcoming.
Federal cooperation is an all-or-nothing proposition; the cooperator must tell the prosecutor everything he knows about any crime that he or anybody else has committed. There are no half-measures. The cooperator cannot withhold incriminating information about certain people he wishes to protect. This selectivity is the most common cause of failed cooperation, and it appears to be Manafort’s undoing here. [Continue reading…]