In the midst of the pandemonium and joyful celebration over Manafort’s guilty verdicts and Michael Cohen’s decision to plead guilty to charges brought against him, it’s important to remember that Special Counsel Robert Mueller was appointed to investigate one thing: “any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with” Trump’s campaign.
That is what the Mueller investigation is primarily about and that is what it has, so far, been unable to prove. We are more than 18 months into Donald Trump’s presidency and neither Manafort, nor anyone else, has been charged with, let alone found guilty of, anything that remotely fits that description. Indeed, Manafort’s crimes date to a time long before he was even hired for a brief stint as the Trump campaign manager.
Manafort’s ordeal is not over yet, however. Of the 18 charges against him, he was found guilty only of eight, while the other 10 resulted in a hung jury, which means he could end up facing another trial on those charges. He also faces another set of charges in a Washington DC court next month; failure to register foreign lobbying and money laundering conspiracy relating to work he did in Ukraine. Even if he is found guilty on the rest of those charges, it will not amount to any proof that Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia.
So, Americans who are desperate to nail Trump for Russia collusion are now pinning their hopes on Cohen, the president’s former lawyer who has said under oath that he committed campaign-finance violations at Trump’s direction and that he paid hush money to two women (adult film actress Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal) to buy their silence “for the principal purpose of influencing the election.”