Paul Manafort was indicted by NY state prosecutors yesterday. I have been predicting this for him and others in the Trump orbit for some time now as the President can’t pardon state crimes and there is not a DOJ memo stating you can not indict a sitting President. The question is if these new charges implicate the “double jeopardy” principles under the “dual sovereignty” doctrine. We break it down on MSNBC with Stephanie Ruhle, Ken Dilanian, Caroline Polisi, and Daniel Alonso. There has always been a “player” move among federal and state prosecutors that I have wondered if they are tactically doing to protect the convictions they secure in this unique environment. This may telegraph there is!
#PaulManafort Indicted in New York
March 14th, 2019
Stephanie Ruhle: Welcome Back I’m Stephanie Ruhle, President Trump says, it is very sad that his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort will be spending the next six plus years of his life in jail on charges of fraud and conspiracy. But, within hours of his sentencing in DC Paul Manafort was hit with State charges in New York. The indictment is seen as strategy for preventing a Presidential pardon, which would not excuse Manafort from State felonies. I’ll bring in NBC’s intelligence and National Security Reporter my friend Ken Dilanian, and Caroline Polisi a Federal and white-collar Criminal Defense Attorney, who currently serves as a lawyer for George Papadopoulos. And Robert Bianchi, a Criminal Defense Attorney and former Prosecutor, and Daniel Alonso, managing Director and General Counsel at Exiger, and previously served in the US attorney’s office in the Eastern District of New York, Ken, walk me through these new charges.
Ken Dilanian: So, it’s a sixteen-count indictment Stephanie, involving mortgage fraud, falsification of business records, it involves transactions that were part of the Mueller investigation. And many of them were actually entered into evidence in the Manafort’s Virginia trial. And so, some legal experts have raised the question of double jeopardy, you know, we have this principle you can’t be charged twice for the same crime in the United States, but it’s common though for you to face State charges on the same fact pattern as Federal charges. But New York has a tougher standard of double jeopardy, nonetheless the Manhattan District Attorney believes that he will prevail. It’s also important to note Stephanie, that these State charges I think loom larger importance today because we’re learning that the top Prosecutor in the Manafort case, Mueller’s top Prosecutor, is leaving his office.
Stephanie Ruhle: How do you read that?
Daniel Dilanian: I’ve just confirmed that with a source close to me.
Stephanie Ruhle: No, I’m saying how should we read that, how should we interpret Wiseman leaving?
Daniel Dilanian: Well, it’s the I think, the latest sign that the Mueller investigation is reaching its end, but what that doesn’t mean is that the criminal investigations into Donald Trump and the people around him are at an end. And in this New York case is a great example of that and there’s also a couple of pending investigations in the Southern District of New York but it is pretty clear that on the Russia question, Robert Mueller is wrapping up. And we expect a report from Mueller to go to the Department of Justice, really any day now, Stephanie.
Stephanie Ruhle: Dan you work for [?] what’s the strategy here?
Daniel Alonso: Well stressing that I haven’t spoken to him about this I can only conclude that his strategy, doing something which is quite unusual is to prevent against the possibility of a Presidential pardon causing a miscarriage of justice with Mr. Manafort. So, I think this was strictly a prophylactic indictment that would not happen ordinarily.
Stephanie Ruhle: Manafort’s team is going to say double jeopardy, will they be successful?
Robert Bianchi: Well, here’s the thing, right now in the United States Supreme Court the Trump administration is arguing against eliminating double jeopardy in these cases. They’re saying that the sovereign doctrine which is at the Federal and the State, should be able to prosecute their crimes as they see fit, was just argued before the Supreme Court, Stephanie, in December. And interestingly justice is like, Alledo, and Kavanaugh and Kagan and the more liberal judges, are all saying, you’re asking us to turn around a hundred and seventy-year-old doctrine that allows the State and the Feds to be able prosecute as they see fit? The challenge here is that New York state has a law that gives greater protection to defendants. That’s why you see District Attorney Vance was very narrow in only charging State crimes like residential mortgage fraud which were not included in the Federal indictment so that he can say these crimes were not similar, they’re not the same, they’re separate, and therefore does not implicate double jeopardy. Last point I have to say, I’ve been saying this forever, the State crimes bypass the pardon power and the DOJ memo that says you can’t indict a sitting President. If I were the boss, sitting here tactically with the Feds and say, look what Trump organization, with the charity, with those kind of things, have nothing to do with Russian collusion. Let us take it, this way the President can’t unrun the case.
Stephanie Ruhle: All right, then do you think Cy Vance’s indictments and his strategy here is going to work and that will stave off the possibility that the President will try to pardon Paul Manafort?
Caroline Polisi: I think potentially, it could work. I think that it’s in all likelihood the office has coordinated with each other in terms of, yes, the way the federal indictments were charged very narrowly tailored to allow for this other state charge. I do think that this looks a bit political on Cy Vance’s part, I think that you know if there is not a pardon. The question is, you know, is he wasting cross control resources on a man that is going to spend, likely the rest of his life in prison.
Stephanie Ruhle: Why is he going to spend the rest of his life in prison? He’s only seventy?
Caroline Polisi: That’s seven and a half years. Potentially, potentially.
Robert Bianchi: And it’s likely he’s going to get pardon this is the point, if you’re dealing with –
Stephanie Ruhle: If my parents are watching, I hope they’re okay. Seven years, come on?
Robert Bianchi: When you’re talking Jared and Ivanka or Trump Junior and some of these other investigations that were given to the Southern District, look, they’re great Prosecutors but the bottom line is they have the ability, they suffer the pardon power. And there’s no question in my mind that that’s what the President will do. So, tactically as Prosecutors you give the crimes to the jurisdiction that bypassed the pardon power. And that’s the State Attorney General and the District Attorney’s. The State Attorney General’s already gone after Trump with regard to the Trump Foundation, and basically wrote a press release that sounds close to an indictment.
Stephanie Ruhle: And so, what does that actually mean? We sat here going you’ve got to be kidding me with what happened with the Trump charity, I mean, awful, humiliating. They can’t even touch a foundation for ten years, except does it really matter? John is still sitting at his job, Ivanka is still sitting at her job and Don Junior is probably hate tweeting at this very moment. So, yes, that terrible thing happened but it didn’t really impact them.
Daniel Alonso: Well, from the point of the State of New York, sure. That’s a pretty big deal to barred from the charitable boards and can have a charity essentially disbanded, that’s a pretty rarely used power of the Attorney General, so I think that’s a pretty big deal just legally. It’s not a criminal case right, so that’s a pretty big distinction, in fact the New York Attorney General generally doesn’t have criminal jurisdiction just with a few exceptions.
Stephanie Ruhle: He did make Ivanka Trump lose her job as the Senior Adviser to the President of the United States.
Daniel Alonso: Well, that’s up to the boss.
Robert Bianchi: And we have to keep in mind because people think that this is so political, Stephanie, but a lot of times as a State Prosecutor, we were prosecuting people for frauds that were in the area seventy-five thousand, eighty thousand, ninety thousand, dollars and they were going to state prison. So, but people want to say, oh this is just political and they’re going after them for no reason. A guy like Paul Manafort, with the break that he got on the sentencing in the Eastern District. In my jurisdiction, the guy would have been looking at a prison sentence of ten years.
Daniel Alonso: That’s not true in Manhattan, I would not expect him to get any more time in Manhattan maybe, even if he gets sentenced it could well run concurrently. New York judges are not the strongest sentencers.
Robert Bianchi: I’m just trying to point out that people who do far less get the same kind of time.
Stephanie Ruhle: Okay, Roger Stone is going to appear before Judge Jackson today, they’re working on getting a trial date. For charges, lying to Congress and obstruction of justice. What are you expecting?
Caroline Polisi: Well, remember Judge Jackson made that very definitive statement the last time Roger Stone was called into the court room for posting an Instagram photograph of her-
Stephanie Ruhle: But his statement wasn’t punishment.
Caroline Polisi: Correct.
Stephanie Ruhle: He’s still walking in a free man. He didn’t sleep in jail last night.
Caroline Polisi: Absolutely, but remember she said this isn’t baseball, you don’t get three strikes, right. The next time this happens I could potentially throw you in jail. I think it’s a little bit of a nuance question, in that the new statement, as it were, is this the publication of this book, right. The republication of a book that came out previously. And the question is whether or not that violates the existing, you know, gag order that she imposed which was now ratcheted up to literally, no statements that he’s allowed to make about the case. I tend to think this is not going to be the straw that breaks the camel’s back, but one more, one more event like this, and he’s going to jail.
Stephanie Ruhle: Well, we’ll soon find out. All right quite an hour, thank you all, so much.