Sputnik talked about Paul Manafort's trial with David Schultz, political science professor at Hamline University.
Sputnik: What's your take on Manafort's decision to plead guilty to these charges?
David Schultz: It's actually pretty significant. Technically correct, the charges are only related to tax evasion and private business dealings that Paul Manafort had, but given that the special prosecutor is offering him what looks like to be a deal and a reduced sentence, one has to think that Paul Manafort has information that is useful to the special prosecutor in connection with the broader probe that Mueller was doing surrounding Trump and Trump's administration.
Sputnik: Normally, when you get a plea deal, is it based on concrete evidence that you have some really good information or is that not necessarily the case?
David Schultz: Generally — that's the case, yes. Keep in mind that they already had convictions for Paul Manafort. In many ways they really didn't have to do a deal with him and there is yet another trial coming up. Generally in a situation like this it's because Paul Manafort probably went to the prosecutor and said "Listen, don't charge me with anything else and give me a reduced sentence on the convictions already — I have some valuable information for you."
So that, I think, is a more significant story. It's not so much that Paul Manafort plead guilty, but wondering what did he offer to special prosecutor to make the prosecutor interested in really reducing the sentence and not continuing to charge him.
Sputnik: Now that he has filed the plea deal, can Manafort be forced to testify against the president?
David Schultz: Yes, he can be. I suspect as part of the plea deal he has agreed to provide evidence, including testimony in court. So, at this point, anything that Manafort knows can not only be used for future investigations, but also, I suspect, Paul Manafort has agreed to say he will be prepared to testify, potentially, against the president of the US, if, for example, criminal charges were filed against him.
The views and opinions expressed are those of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.