Fox News senior judicial analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano appeared on "Fox & Friends" Tuesday to react to Special Counsel Robert Mueller's office accusing Paul Manafort of violating his plea agreement.
The dramatic development in the 11th hour of Mr. Manafort's case means, at a minimum, that prosecutors will not ask for a lighter punishment in return for his cooperation.
Last September, Manafort pled guilty to two reduced federal charges and agreed to cooperate with the special counsel investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election. "Wait until it comes out how horribly & viciously they are treating people, ruining lives for them refusing to lie", Trump wrote on his Twitter account. Trump denies any campaign collusion and has repeatedly called the investigation a political witch hunt. "This has absolutely nothing to do - this is a witch hunt, and it's a disgrace", Trump told reporters in August. Earlier this month, there were mounting tensions between Mueller and Manafort over Manafort' s apparent lack of cooperation with the investigation, multiple sources familiar with the matter told ABC News.
The plea deal Manafort agreed to would allow him to serve only 10 years of the possible 80 he was facing, as well as negate the need for a second trial.
But Manafort attended a June 2016 meeting in Trump Tower with Russians, Donald Trump Jr. and Jared Kushner that has become a focus of the special counsel probe.
Striking a plea deal with Manafort in September potentially gave prosecutors access to information that could prove useful to their investigation.
Trump accuses Mueller of 'ruining lives'
The terms of the plea agreement waive any right to retract Manafort's guilty pleas, so he's on the hook no matter what. A jury found Manafort guilty of eight of 18 counts of tax and bank fraud in a federal trial in NY on August 21.
If Trump were to go ahead and issue a pardon to Manafort, his actions could be viewed as obstruction of justice, especially if Manafort and members of Trump's legal team (or Trump himself) were in communication about a potential pardon.
Since pleading guilty, Manafort had met with prosecutors almost a dozen times, and though members of Mueller's team have been asking him about a wide range of topics, they're "not getting what they want", a source with knowledge of the discussions told ABC News.
The result could jeopardize whatever progress Mueller hoped to make by cutting a deal with Manafort.
Since pleading guilty, Manafort had met with prosecutors almost a dozen times, and though members of Mueller's team have been asking him about a wide range of topics, they're "not getting what they want", a source with knowledge of the discussions told ABC News. He was found guilty on eight counts, including tax fraud, money laundering and lying to the government.
Manafort's lawyers were just as plain.
The filing left unclear how the breakdown of talks between Manafort and the special counsel's office might affect the rest of Mueller's work. So I guess one question is could the special counsel have lost an important witness potentially here in the whole Russian Federation investigation?