Speaking on "Fox & Friends" Monday morning, liberal law professor Alan Dershowitz broke down the Paul Manafort indictment and what it means going forward for FBI special counsel Robert Mueller's Trump-Russia probe.
What did he say?
- It's all about leverage: "They're going after Manafort on something that apparently has to do with Trump, [something] from years ago, his own business. But what they're saying to him is: 'We've got you now, and we don't care about that, but if you can tell us something about Trump and the campaign and collusion, we'll give you a get out of jail card free.' So it's all about leverage, that's the way prosecutors work."
- Manafort is very important if a much larger criminal case exists: "Manafort knows where the bodies are buried. He was an intimate. And if anything wrong happened in the campaign, and there's no evidence that anything did, Manafort would know about it. Even if he wasn't directly there, he heard about it."
- Manafort is the first "domino": "What Mueller wants to do is see [Manafort] as the first domino, the second domino, the third domino, ultimately trying to get to the big domino — that is President Trump."
- Manafort could be on his own: "If he has nothing to offer, he's just going to have to defend himself on these financial charges that have nothing to do with Trump."
- Manafort may sing and "compose": "Sometimes prosecutors can twist you not only into singing but into composing, into making something up against somebody. They're so desperate to make a deal. If you can get yourself out of trouble by turning somebody else in, a lawyer is going to help you try to do that."
- There may be a "grand strategy to Mueller's investigation: "If he only gets Manafort, at least he has earned some of his money — the special prosecutor. And if he can get Manafort turn it into somebody a little higher and a little higher and a little higher, the dominoes begin to fall. So it's a win-win strategy for prosecutors and, of course, it creates vulnerability for the ultimate target."
Manafort and his former business associate, Rick Gates, who also worked with the Trump campaign, surrendered to the FBI Monday after they were indicted last Friday on 12 charges, including conspiracy against the United States, money laundering, lying to the government and failure to register as a foreign agent. The pair will likely be arraigned Monday afternoon and released. Their indictment did NOT mention President Donald Trump or his campaign.
However, it was also revealed Monday that another former Trump campaign staffer, George Papadopolous, who worked as a foreign policy adviser, was arrested in July and has pleaded guilty to making false statements to the FBI. He is cooperating with the government, which spells trouble for Trump if there is any wrongdoing.
Interestingly, one of the false statements Papadopolous made to the FBI was about a Russian official's attempt to deliver possibly damaging emails on Hillary Clinton to Trump's campaign.