Thursday, August 16, 2018

Dept. of Justice Conspiracy Theories - 4

John Brennan, former CIA Director, calls President Trump's denials of any campaign conspiracy "Hogwash" (‘Hogwash’: John Brennan torches Trump).

Does that impact the ongoing trial in Virgina?

The record supports Brennan's assertion because Rick Gates, the lieutenant to Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort, pleaded guilty to "Conspiracy Against The United States" (VOX, Chicago Tribune, Guardian).

The statute Gates pleaded guilty to reads:
If two or more persons conspire either to commit any offense against the United States, or to defraud the United States, or any agency thereof in any manner or for any purpose, and one or more of such persons do any act to effect the object of the conspiracy, each shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than five years, or both.
(18 U.S. Code § 371, emphasis added). It would seem, then, that since all the charges in Virginia were dropped against Gates, the conspiracy charges cannot be brought against Manafort alone.

Does the Virginia jury begin deliberating today in order to render a verdict on the conspiracy counts, or have the conspiracy charges (against Manafort) already been dropped?

Or do they deliberate only on the multiple other counts (non-conspiracy) against Manafort?

Perhaps we must wait for the next Manafort trial, in the District of Columbia (where Gates pleaded guilty) for a conspiracy conviction against Manafort:
"Gates pleaded guilty last week to separate charges, filed against him in Washington DC, that he conspired against the US and lied to investigators over the course of their inquiry.

The Virginia charges were dropped against him as part of a plea agreement in which Gates is being shown leniency by prosecutors in exchange for his full cooperation."
(Guardian, emphasis added). If Manafort is the only one found guilty of conspiracy in the Virginia case, since the relevant statute requires "two or more" conspirators, it would seem that he may have a shot at having the conspiracy counts dismissed (if they haven't been dropped already).

That would mean that the District of Columbia case is the only place where the conspiracy charges can be coherently prosecuted against "two or more" (both Gates and Manafort).

The conspiracy charges in Virginia against Manafort have evidently not been dropped according to some reports.

Here are the relevant charges:
"Subscribing to false income tax returns

Number of counts: 5
Maximum prison sentence per count: 3 years
Failing to file foreign bank account reports

Number of counts: 4
Maximum prison sentence per count: 5 years
Bank fraud and bank fraud conspiracy

Number of counts: 4 counts of bank fraud;
5 counts of bank fraud conspiracy
Maximum prison sentence per count: 30 years"
(CNBC, emphasis added). How can those 5 conspiracy charges hold when only one person is being tried and the statute reads "each shall be fined under this title or imprisoned" (In the Virginia case Gates got no fine and no jail time ... no convictions ... all charges dropped) ?

The final shoe to drop will be the potential pardon or pardons.

Would Trump only pardon Manafort, for example in order to punish Gates for "snitching?"

We shall see.

The conspiracy counts are somewhat moot now because the jury in the Manafort case deadlocked on them.

I can't help but think that the poisoning of the term "conspiracy theory" by the corporate media is partly to blame.

That is one theme of this series.
The previous post in this series is here.


  1. A lawyer writes: "In general, the government needs to have more evidence of the conspiracy than simply a statement of one of the alleged conspirators against the other. This means that the government can’t just arrest two people and say that these two people are engaged in some kind of conspiracy and offer a plea deal to one of them. One person can’t just say we were in a conspiracy and this is what we did. If that’s all the evidence the government has, then they’re not going to be able to proceed..." (link)

  2. and they're real good at hiding their crimes, sowing disinformation and branding the accusers to turn the attention on them

    1. A newish book "House of Trump House of Putin" by C. Unger points out a lot of that (USA Today, see also Trump’s Dirty Money).