Manafort, Trump’s former campaign chairman, pleaded guilty to additional charges on Friday morning, roughly three weeks after being convicted on eight criminal counts in a Virginia court.
Giuliani said that if Manafort had incriminating evidence on Trump, special counsel Robert Mueller’s team “would have had him plead to a conspiracy that would encompass the president.”
Giuliani also criticized Mueller’s team — naming prosecutor Andrew Weissman specifically — for failing to dampen the idea that Manafort could be cooperating against Trump.
“One of the things they should do, if they were ethical, is to cut off the speculation,” Giuliani said, claiming that he used to do this in his days as a federal prosecutor if there was erroneous speculation in the media about one of his cases.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders had already sought to minimize the significance of the Manafort news as it pertained to Trump.
“This had absolutely nothing to do with the President or his victorious 2016 Presidential campaign. It is totally unrelated,” Sanders said in a statement.
Giuliani drew on an analogy to make his point regarding the crimes to which Manafort is pleading.
“If two people committed a bank robbery, you are not going to have [one] plead guilty to income tax evasion. How does that make sense?” he said. “Then it comes to trial and the defense says, ‘Oh, you didn’t plead guilty to robbing the bank but you’re saying my guy did?’”
But some legal experts were scathing of this analysis.
Mark Zaid, a D.C.-based attorney who has represented clients from both major parties, said Giuliani’s view was “nonsensical.”
“Incriminating information that Manafort may — with an emphasis on ‘may’ — know, may not be criminal activity that Manafort himself was involved in,” Zaid said.
Asked whether it was possible that Manafort could cooperate against the president, even while pleading guilty on unrelated charges, Giuliani replied, “Technically it’s possible to do everything, but I happen to know it’s not going to happen.”
Giuliani declined to comment on whether there had been any discussion of a possible presidential pardon for Manafort.
BY NIALL STANAGE – 09/14/18