In what may amount to the biggest bombshell of Robert Mueller’s investigation thus far, former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort has signed a plea deal and promised to cooperate with investigations. The agreement requires Manafort to turn over papers, provide testimony on criminal wrongdoing of his colleagues, and generally share “his participation in and knowledge of all criminal activities.”
“I’m guilty,” Manafort said before a Virginia courtroom Friday. By pleading guilty on charges of conspiring to defraud the United States and witness tampering, he will face a maximum of 10 years in prison.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters that Manafort’s plea is “totally unrelated” to anything the president has done. Trump ally and lawyer Rudy Giuliani released a statement echoing Sanders:
Once again an investigation has concluded with a plea having nothing to do with President Trump or the Trump campaign. The reason: the President did nothing wrong and Paul Manafort will tell the truth.
Shortly after issuing this statement, however, Giuliani amended it, deleting the final phrase “Paul Manafort will tell the truth.”
This comically bungled attempt to brush away the legal trouble that Trump now faces underscores that the Trump camp is frightened of what Manafort will tell investigators. If Giuliani decided it better not to preemptively lend credence to what Manafort provides, it’s probably because Trump won’t like what he hears.