Loud and Clear host Walter Smolarek spoke with Lionel, a mononymic prosecutor-turned-political commentator and radio/television personality, about who Paul Manafort is and why the investigation into him matters.
"Paul Manafort was originally in the Trump campaign and they are trying to get to Paul Manafort to see if they could find anything which will ultimately embarrass President Trump," said Lionel. "If it wasn't for President Trump, I don't think anybody would even care about Paul Manafort, it is that simple. They hope to find, through him, by putting him through the grand jury process, through the prosecution process… something on [Trump]."
"They will then be able to leverage that against him in the hope that perhaps maybe he could then give up or testify against President Trump, somebody in Trump's family, or anything that could embarrass this administration. Plain and simple."
In other words, Lionel expects Robert Mueller, the special counsel for the US Department of Justice who is investigating alleged links between the Trump presidential campaign and the Russian government, to bring Manafort before the grand jury. Mueller has impaneled a grand jury to potentially bring charges against figures connected to Trump.
Lionel also dismissed the grand jury's legitimacy as a device by which to determine if a crime took place (the purpose of such an assembly, as opposed to a petit or trial jury, which determines guilt). "There's an old expression in this country and it was brought or coined by a very famous jurist by the name of Saul Locklear, who said: 'a good prosecutor with a grand jury can indict a ham sandwich.' So the idea that it is this protective device, this cushion, this barrier, this firewall, between the government and the people, is pretty much fictional. It's a nice process, but it doesn't really it doesn't do that which it was intended to do."
So why is so much attention being brought against Manafort? According to Lionel the purpose of the raid was "to teach Manafort a lesson … to let everybody know, including Manafort, that he can't hide behind his friends, that he's on his own. Perhaps it might be best for him to cooperate with the prosecution lest he find himself in the … grasp of Mueller and the FBI. So it was it was frankly for show; it was unnecessary."
The intention of the investigation into Manafort isn't to determine if a crime was committed, Lionel argued. "If you are the subject of a federal prosecution, I guarantee you you have violated a federal law. I guarantee you, you cannot be an adult who's done anything [without being guilty of something]. One of the charges they're bringing up is the Foreign Agents Registration Act. This is something which is normally pro forma [as a matter of form] … if you make a mistake, if you don't write down or if you don't make note of a particular agency or association that you are a part of, you can, you know, retroactively fill in the forms. It's no big deal except in this case."
Lionel concluded by noting that this is probably the first time anyone has actually been prosecuted under this particular law, and that while the prosecution's behavior was "unethical" and "unconstitutional," it is also sadly all too common.