As the close of trial of Paul Manafort, Donald Trump’s former campaign manager, comes to a close, the odds of a conviction seem to grow by the day. Manafort, who is charged with bank fraud, conspiracy, and various federal criminal tax violations, is now in week two of his trial in a Virginia federal courthouse.
If convicted, it’s a reasonable belief that Manafort will get around a 10 year sentence in federal prison. While the Federal Sentencing Guidelines may suggest that a higher sentence is recommended, some of the judge’s comments to prosecutors, both before and after the trial began, suggests that he may not be wooed by the Special Counsel’s handling of this case and that he will give a reduced sentence.
Once convicted, Trump could pardon Manafort. This would mean that Manafort would not suffer any consequences, or potential consequences from anything associated with the case. That also means that if Manafort can’t be further prosecuted, he loses his Fifth Amendment privilege against self incrimination.
In a nutshell, if Trump pardons Manafort, Mueller could force Manafort to testify before a federal grand jury. Manafort would no longer have the right to “take the Fifth.” He would have to answer questions that invariably lead to the Trump administration, or Donald Trump himself. If Manafort does not get pardoned, then his lawyers would appeal; something which would prevent him from testifying.
The worst thing Donald Trump could do to himself is to pardon Paul Manafort. Manafort would have to tell all. So maybe Manafort is left like the singing canary who can’t sign if he’s in cage.