Businessman and short-lived Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort has lost the last luxury afforded to him: his freedom. When Special Counsel Robert Mueller took him back to court to face new accusations, his bail agreement was rescinded and he will spend his remaining time before trial inside a jail cell.
But is there more to these charges and the treatment of the accused than meets the eye? There are some key questions that deserve to be answered.
Why did Special Counsel Mueller decide to try Manafort for a range of alleged crimes in different courts? Although not unheard of, it is certainly an unusual practice that clearly provides a benefit to the prosecutors over the defendant. By having multiple trials, it is arguable that Mueller hopes to limit the chances of his prey finding a safe harbor.
Should Manafort manage to convince a judge in one court that he is innocent (which he still claims), he would still have to face charges in another. The motivation behind this particular brand of lawfare is clear: apply the pressure, make him sweat, flip him.
In early May, District Judge T.S. Ellis expressed his outrage at what he saw as the prosecution “using” Manafort and the judicial system as a tool to take on the president. He said:
“You don’t really care about Mr. Manafort’s bank fraud… What you really care about is what information Mr. Manafort could give you that would reflect on Mr. Trump or lead to his prosecution or impeachment.”
The Virginia judge went further and suggested that this tactic was likely to not just make Manafort “sing,” but to “compose.”
This kind of practice was commonly used in drug cases back in the 80s, and although it is regarded as a legitimate method of catching bigger fish, it leaves a lot to be desired morally… especially when President Trump has yet to be accused of an actual crime.
Tyranny and Vendetta
Roger Stone, a close ally of President Trump, spoke of his own personal persecution at the hands of the Mueller investigation. He described the tactics being used against him as “Orwellian,” and the actions of a “police state.” In an interview with Tucker Carlson he said:
“It’s become abundantly clear that having come up empty-handed of any evidence of Russian collusion, having no proof of any hijinks with WikiLeaks because I’ve received nothing from them and passed nothing on, it’s now abundantly clear that the special council seeks to go through every aspect of my personal, business, and political life trying to conjuror up some offense to pressure me to testify against the president.”
Yet Stone’s voice is not the only one claiming he is being targeted with a view to taking down the president. Mueller has called out a range of individuals who have connections (however arbitrary) to the Trump campaign, and either purposely or inadvertently set the media attack dogs on them. These people have become isolated, derided, and in many cases have become fearful for their personal safety and freedom. Is this really what we should expect from a “justice” system?
Manafort may well be guilty of some, or all, of the charges levied against him. Until he is proven guilty, however, he does not deserve the condemnation and trauma he is undergoing. The purpose of the court system is not to act as a political iron maiden, but to determine the truth and apply the law of the land. This is persecution. This is tyranny. And to every reasonable mind, this is politically motivated.