Politics & Policy

The Corner

Manafort Indicted: A Few Quick Thoughts

A few brief observations in the wake of the Manafort news:

Paul Manafort may be innocent of all these charges, though I doubt he is.

Even if he is innocent, Manafort is a sleazy and shady character, and it was almost inevitable that Trump & Co. would regret being associated with him eventually. Manafort’s résumé alone is dishonorable, even if he didn’t break any laws. Even some of his friends and former colleagues will admit off the record that he’s a bad apple.

That said, there’s nothing in this indictment that has anything to do with Russian “collusion” or with the Trump campaign. My understanding is that the tax charges had to be filed ASAP before the statute of limitations kicked in.

There are a few conclusions that flow from this. The first is: There is no reason for conservatives or Republican officials to go the extra mile defending Manafort. Even President Trump has been lukewarm on the guy. There’s no need to get out in front of the president when it comes to defending a creepy foreign lobbyist who’s defended some of the world’s most indefensible regimes.

Second, I think this makes the odds of Trump firing Mueller or pardoning everybody — an idea largely endorsed by the Wall Street Journal in a shocking editorial — much more unlikely. Or rather, it makes the political consequences of doing so much worse for Trump. But predicting Trump’s behavior isn’t something I’d want to lay odds on.

The third conclusion is that, as of yet, the Manafort indictment is either good news for Trump — “that’s all they got” — or it’s very bad news for Trump — “uh oh, now they can flip Manafort.”

And that just brings us to the fundamental truth of this entire story. If Trump is guilty of seriously and secretly colluding with Russia — something I’m still skeptical of and that lacks much proof — then he is in big trouble because Mueller will figure it out. If he didn’t, he’s not in big trouble because Mueller will figure it out.

Update: One of the problems with offering “quick reactions” to breaking news is that you often miss something important. It seems to me the news about George Papadopolous’s guilty plea contradicts the spirit, if not the text, of what I said about there being nothing Russia related in the Manafort indictment. How big a deal this is, I have no idea.

Most Popular

Culture

Courage: The Greatest of Virtues

EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is Jonah Goldberg’s weekly “news”letter, the G-File. Subscribe here to get the G-File delivered to your inbox on Fridays. Dear Reader (Or Listener), As the reporter assigned the job of writing the article about all of Sidney Blumenthal’s friends and supporters told his ... Read More
Immigration

My American Dream

This morning, at 8 a.m., I did something I’ve wanted to do for as long as I can remember: I became an American. I first applied for a visa in early 2011, and since then I have slowly worked my way through the system — first as a visa-holder, then as a permanent resident (green card), and, finally, as a ... Read More
U.S.

The Gun-Control Debate Could Break America

Last night, the nation witnessed what looked a lot like an extended version of the famous “two minutes hate” from George Orwell’s novel 1984. During a CNN town hall on gun control, a furious crowd of Americans jeered at two conservatives, Marco Rubio and Dana Loesch, who stood in defense of the Second ... Read More